Mission Monkey


Today Kongo visits the first of the Franciscan California missions, the Mission San Diego de Alcalá in Mission Valley, San Diego.  The mission is still an active church with regular masses scheduled on weekends.  Kongo waited almost an hour before entering the sanctuary to take pictures because a hearty couple was celebrating 50 years together with a full mass.  It wasn’t a loss though.  Kongo was free to roam the rest of the grounds and had a nice chat with a man named Rick from Prescott, Arizona visiting San Diego with his family.Anyone who attended California public schools in Fourth Grade, and certainly all the parents of intrepid Fourth Graders will well remember when the class studied the California missions.  A major part of the curriculum is constructing miniature missions from sugar cubes.  Kongo thinks the last time he actually visited the San Diego mission was when his oldest was in Fourth Grade and that was, lets see, … a long time ago.  In any event it brought back many memories.

The small chapel at the mission.
The small chapel at the mission.

The California missions were founded by Father Junípero Sera , a Spanish Franciscan  who first came to San Diego in 1769 and started the first settlement in what is now America’s Finest City.  The missions were designed to convert the local indians to Catholicism and develop prosperous land enterprises for Spain.  The influence of the founding Father continues through today as evidenced by Mission Valley, the San Diego Padres baseball team, and other naming rights up and down the coast.  Everybody seems to like the friars except perhaps the original natives who fought the Franciscans until they decided they liked the friars too and everybody pretty much got along.  At least that is the official story.  Actually the indians who decided to convert were captured by Spanish soldiers and forcibly kept at the mission lest they backslide into heathenry and other indian sins.  They were also induced in forced labor to support Franciscan economic goals.  The indians, being child like and incapable of surviving, needed the firm, guiding hand of the church to keep them in line.  It was pretty much the same tack the Spanish took everywhere in the New World.  Father Sera was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

You simply can’t have a California mission without abundant falls of scarlet Bougainvillea spilling over the sides of white adobe walls.
The campanário bell tower next to the main church building. By 1900 this had fallen into disrepair but was rebuild in the 1930s. The bell at lower left dates back to 1803 and was commissioned by the King of Spain.
The main sanctuary.


This beautiful garden area was not part of the original mission but was added in the early 1930s
This beautiful garden area was not part of the original mission but was added in the early 1930s


This fountain in back of the church sits atop the original well that served the mission.
Mission Monkey

IMG_7386The mission is located in Mission Valley on San Diego Mission Road.  It’s close enough to Interstate 8 to hear the traffic.  About a mile east of Charger Football Stadium.  It’s easy to find, there’s plenty of parking, and it’s open every day.  Of course there’s a gift shop.  Admission is free.  A $3 donation is encouraged.

Travel safe.  Have fun.


8 thoughts on “Mission Monkey

  1. I remember visiting one of those missions on a trip to California a long while ago though now I don’t remember which one. I do remember that it was beautiful and I particularly like your picture of the bougainvillea; one of my favourite flowers. (Suzanne)

      1. I hope so too for you…we have had a very cold spring so far. It seems to be getting better for the next few weeks so hopefully it will stay that way and be nice weather for your visit!

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