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Hitting the Missions Trail Through California
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Come see Central California’s rich history by way of classic Spanish Missions. These incredibly beautiful and mysterious monuments have stood the test of time through earthquakes, famine and disease. Long before the Gold Rush, Hollywood productions and world-renowned wine, California was an oasis of opportunity for missionaries in the new world. Hundreds of years later missions continue to speckle the hillsides surrounding Paso Robles and serve as both museum and sanctuary in Central California.
Here’s a preview for your next visit to Paso Robles.
Image source: Instagram @jimblm
A short drive north of town on Highway 101, you’ll find Mission San Miguel a beautifully maintained adobe church and parish built more than 200 years ago. Its name comes from the Archangel Saint Michael. Franciscan Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen founded the Mission to better connect the farther north Mission San Antonio and Mission San Luis Obispo to the south. It once housed more than 1,000 people who lived and worked at the mission.
Today, Mission San Miguel is a State and National Historic Landmark and the Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara, who operate the Mission, still hold mass every day of the week with sermons in English and Spanish. You can explore the museum and check out the handcrafted church for yourself through a self-guided tour any day of the week.
Image source: Instagram @cdmiller3
Take a scenic drive south on 101 to visit Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Named after Saint Louis de Anjou, the Mission was founded in 1772 to harvest and hunt the bountiful valley and support the missionary work throughout Central California. Today, Mission San Luis Obispo remains a hub for more than a dozen active ministries as well as outreach support to local communities. When you arrive, ascend the stone steps and tour the immense hallways that once housed hundreds of Spanish missionaries. Stop by mass, held daily or visit the gift shop and join a Docent-led group tour.
Image source: Wikipedia
To the north and a bit off the beaten path is Mission San Antonio de Padua. Located nearly 30 miles west of King City, this Mission was dedicated to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of the poor, whose statue still looks out over the altar. Mission San Antonio is also one of the few missions that did not have a town spring up around it. Built in 1771, today it is a parish church run by the Diocese of Monterey. The mission is surrounded by Fort Hunter Liggett, a military reservation established during World War II that still actively trains troops today.
Whether you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle to meditate, explore the historic parish or snap a timeless image of what this region looked like 200 years ago, a visit to Mission San Antonio will not disappoint.
No matter how you visit Central California’s Missions, or which one you choose, you’ll leave enriched and with a deeper appreciation for the history of this vast region.