Day 18 – January 28 – Carlsbad, CA – Day 13
WARNING: LONG BLOG, LOTS OF PHOTOS.
When I checked out things to see and do in the Carlsbad area one of the places was the historic Mission San Luis Rey de Francia about a half hour north in Oceanside. I had heard of the Mission but I couldn’t remember when or where or whether it was from history class, cowboy books, or movies or what.
The Missson probably featured prominently in American history class and I am sure it was also mentioned in many books and movies but in the last room of the museum there were two painted wooden doors attached to the wall and above them was a poster promoting the 1957 Disney-produced television series “Zorro.” Disney used the Mission for a regular set in the series; the helpful Friar Felipe was a member of the Franciscan Monks who lived and worked at Mission San Luis Rey. The Disney studio used the doors for the TV series and they also put a skull and crossbones above the entrance to the cemetery, which is still there today. I loved Zorro – well I really loved his black horse, but he was good too. Childhood memories Chapter 2!
Although the series was the most popular show on its Thursday night time slot it was pulled after only two years (1957-1959) due to legal wranglings between Disney Studios and the ABC Network.
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia (named after French King Louis IX) was nicknamed the King of Missions and was the 18th of 21 missions constructed along the Alta California coast to claim land for Spain and establish a presence in the New World to thwart the threat of Russian encroachment. Of the original 21 missions 18 are still standing. The missions stretched along the coast from the Mexican border to north of San Francisco; each one built the distance a horse could travel in a day from the next. The first was built in 1769 and the last in 1823. San Luis Rey was dedicated June 13, 1798.
When Spain decided to protect it’s interest in Alto California by building the missions it was a three-pronged venture. The missions were homes to soldiers who could provide security, the various orders of monks could spread Catholicism to the native Indians of the area (there were not many Spaniards in the New World so Spain decided to colonize with the indigenous people), and the Indians could be taught new skills so they could become productive citizens for Spain.
During the 34 years, from the day of dedication until he left in January 1832, Father Antonio Peyri was in charge of the Mission. In that time it became home to 3,000 Indians and the Mission cared for more than 50,000 head of livestock. Vast areas of land surrounding the Mission were brought under cultivation; producing grapes, oranges, olives, wheat and corn. The Indians and monks made all kinds of goods and products that were needed for the work at the Mission and could be traded for things they needed.
I love the way the posts in the room were chiseled a bit to make a decorative feature.
When we were in Spain in 2012 on the Grand Mediterranean Cruise we took a tour up the mountain to Caravacas, a medieval monastery where we heard the story of the miracles attributed over the centuries to the original Caravaca cross. It was interesting to see a small version that had been brought by the Franciscan monks.
During the heyday of the Mission there were shops for blacksmiths, locksmiths, ironworkers, tailors, leather workers, shoemakers, saddlers and harness makers, carpenters and joiners, coopers (barrel makers), and rooms for carding, looms and weaving. There was a pharmacy, infirmaries for men, ladies and children, a school, a school of music, and a wine cellar,
After California was ceded to Mexico the Mission was abandoned in 1846, it’s lands given to settlers, it’s buildings looted of any goods and useable building materials. Over the years there were several restorations and subsequent abandonment. When California became part of the United States in 1850 the Catholic Bishop of California petitioned to have all the Missions returned to the Church. March 18, 1865 after twelve years of lobbying President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation – only a month before his assasination. The original document is in the Mission museum.
There has been ongoing restoration and archaeological work at the site ever since. There are still Franciscan Monks living and working at the Mission and the property is used as a retreat center. The local Luiseno Indians hold their annual pow wow on the grounds.
A sign on the wall in the museum mentioned that there is still an active cemetery here. I chuckled a bit at that; most cemeteries are not all that active. But people are still being buried at San Luis Rey. There is a large cemetery with family crypts, walls for cremated remains and grave plots. We explored the church as soon as we arrived and then went to the museum. When we came out of the museum we saw a hearse parked in front of the church and mourners in black wheeling a flag-draped coffin inside for a funeral service. When we went to look at the cemetery there were more than a dozen US Marines preparing to provide military honours.
We wandered all over the grounds checking out the old foundations of the soldier’s barracks and the Lavanderia – the bathing and laundry area. It was a gorgeous sunny day so I was a happy photographer.
It was 1:30 when we left Mission San Luis Rey. We had lunch and then drove back toward Carlsbad along the El Camino Real road. One of the intersecting roads is Marron on which is the entrance to the eastern half of Hosp Grove Park. Since it was still early we pulled in and went geo-cache hunting. There were four caches hidden here and we found them all. This part of the park is much larger than the side we explored before so it was after 4 pm when we got back to the truck. We called it a day and headed back to the condo.