Sunday, December 9, 2012

California Missions ~ Chapter Eight: Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

When I worked and lived in Los Angeles, I sometimes took off by myself on a mini-vacation. I would find a hotel along the coast and walk, read, go to the movies, shop, or just relax for a few days. I found this to be both invigorating and good for the soul. In 2004, I decided take some time and visit the two missions located between San Diego and Los Angeles, Mission San Luis Rey and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Mission San Luis Rey, located in Oceanside, is the one you reach first when traveling from south to north. By 2004 I had a digital camera, so the pictures are mine. Looking at them, I see how I could have done a better job of capturing the special features of the mission. This is interesting because the pictures from San Juan Capistrano that I visited on the same trip are among my best. I wonder if it depends on your mood on a particular day.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, named after King Louis IX of France (1215-1270), was founded on June 13, 1798 and is the eighteenth of the Spanish missions built in California. According to Wikipedia, the current church was built in 1811 and is the third church built on this location. Today, it is a parish church in the Diocese of San Diego, as well as a National Historic Landmark and museum. At its prime, this mission covered over 950,000 acres and was one of the largest in the mission system. 

Mission San Luis Rey is impressive with its stark white buildings and large church built in the Moorish style mixed with Spanish Renaissance. Because of its large size the mission has been nicknamed "King of the Missions." 

I sat on an old stone bench here and took this picture. I found some small, enclosed gardens like this one within this this large and massive mission. 

Looking at this photo of the courtyard at mission San Luis Rey, I wish I had captured the entire text of that plaque. What is interesting here is that in the background, to the right, is the oldest Peruvian pepper tree planted in California. It was planted in 1830. I can't tell which tree it is, but there you have it. 

Next Sunday we will visit the beautiful Mission San Juan Capistrano.


  1. when i go back and look at photos from the first few years of digital, i always think what i would have done now... that makes it fun to go back to the same places. i beleive as we go through the years we get better at seeing before we snap. i love the fountain shot. and I do think it somewhat depends on our mood.

  2. Hi Inger, I'm enjoying these mission posts. I'm glad they're kept in good condition.

    As for the photos, yes it does matter what mood you're in, plus the light that improves the shot or gives it atmosphere, and what angle you're at. I always try to capture signs now (at least one photo), because you will always want to know what that sign said. I was trying to figure that out!
    Have a great Sunday.

  3. My sister-in-law is named Francia -- a pretty name for a pretty lady.


  4. i like the gardens with st. francis in it (at least that's who i assume that statue is). pretty mission!

  5. It is amazing how pristine and clean everything looks, especially considering the age of the buildings. Even in pictures one can envision the people from the past.

  6. Thank you for taking us on this tour--I am thoroughly enjoying it!!

  7. Jag gillar verkligen ditt sista foto med den klarblå himlen och jag förstår att det var själva portalen som du ville fånga den gången. Men det är intressant det där att man efteråt kan upptäcka detaljer i en bild som man inte alls tänkt på när bilden togs.

  8. Oh how I would love those gardens, Inger!!!...:)JP

  9. While this is indeed a beautiful mission, it always gives me the creeps...

  10. The white is so bright, it's stsrtling. Beautiful pictures, and a beautiful place. I'mi so glad you had a digital camera when you went there! Can't wait to see Capistrano.

  11. I think your photos are very nice! I love the idea of just going off on your own for day or two of exploring. I think small trips, close to home, but still exploratory are my favorite activities. I have a funny memory of touring Mission San Juan Capistrano when my children were small. My mother-in-law, a teacher and quite a historian, was walking around the grounds with our kids in tow, and soon she had collected quite a crowd. Others thought she was a docent to the Mission. My kids were at an age where this was humiliating to them. We still laugh about it. But I think my mother-in-law, gone for a long time now, influenced me and passed on my love for the missions. I think your posts are probably inspiring others, too, Inger, to take another look at them, and not dismiss them as uninteresting buildings. They are fascinating!

  12. Living near Oceanside, we have visited this mission many times, and I never tire of it.

    Your photos capture its beauty.

  13. Dear Inger, I'm so enjoying taking this tour with you and I like to think of you in years past taking days off to simply be with yourself and enjoy life. That's so good for us and we forget often to do that. Today I'm going to go out and shop--something I seldom ever day--for Christmas gifts and so I hope that I'll be gracious to the clerks and not impatient and eager to get back to my toasty warm house! Maybe if I think of myself, like you, with a digital camera in my hands, I see the beauty of the places I go. Peace.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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