“When at night you cannot sleep, talk to the Shepherd and stop counting sheep.”- Author Unknown
Maybe it was the cool breezes of the morning or the promise of a new day, but the wish to go off the beaten path challenged me. This time the burgundy Element traveled to Oceanside, CA to the “King of the Missions,” San Luis Rey de Francia.
Gleaming white buildings of adobe could be seen from the corner of 4050 Mission Avenue. This National Historic Landmark, founded on June 13, 1798 by Fr. Fermin Lasuen. Of the twenty-one Spanish missions, it is the 18th along the mission trail named after King Louis IX of France. San Luis Rey (St. Louis the King), named for a saint that was both king and Franciscan tertiary.
History begins with the Luiseno Indians that for many years inhabited the area. Their lives consisted of hunting and gathering. The self-sufficient, law-abiding behavior of the people became the forefront of the chief and shaman.
A Move Forward
When Spain established a mission, they were given the bare minimum of soldiers, supplies and padre’s true to their calling. Spain took the land, laid claim to it to prevent the Russians from the north as well as the British from claiming it first. The jobs of the Franciscans were to teach new skills and preach to the Indians and develop productive citizens for Spain. Father Antonio Peyri took charge of the mission until his departure January, 1832.
During this time the mission was the largest building in Alta California as well as self-sustaining with approximately, 3000 Indians, 50,000 head of livestock and an irrigation system for large portions of the land producing crops like grapes, olives, wheat and corn .
The tour is self-guided, giving insight to the time of early California and the padre’s. Be aware that the Mission Church is currently preparing for renovations and will reopen by Christmas, 2012. Don’t forget to view the oldest pepper tree in California planted by Fr. Peyri from seeds given to him by a sailor from Peru.