Mission San Diego

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Mission San Diego (1769-1834) - A Spanish mission established in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra in present day San Diego, San Diego County, California. Associated with the Presidio of San Diego. Named for Catholic Saint Didacus. Secularized in 1834. Also known as Mission San Diego de Alcala.

Mission San Diego Church Interior
Mission San Diego Courtyard Fountain
Mission San Diego Church Exterior

The Spanish Period (1769-1821)

Mission San Diego Chapel

The Spanish period began in California with the building of Mission San Diego de Alcala, and the Presidio of San Diego in 1769. The Spanish Presidio provided a support system for the attached missions that included military troops. The mission provided provided a complete community for the converted native peoples that included agriculture and industry activities as well as religious instruction and services. Typically a very limited military presence was maintained at the missions and the presidio acted as the garrison for the surrounding missions.

The Mission San Diego was founded on 16 Jul 1769, by Junipero Serra, as the 1st of twenty-one Spanish missions founded in California. The Mission was originally located close to the Presidio of San Diego on Presidio Hill but was relocated to the current location in 1774. The relocation away from the military authority of the Presidio was designed to overcome the fears of the Indian population and increase conversions. The success of the relocation set the pattern for other missions.

The mission was destroyed in November 1775 by hostile Indians who also murdered Father Luis Jaime and two others.

The current church is the third one built on this site and it was built in 1813.

Mexican Period (1822-1846)

The Mexican period began with the end of the Mexican Revolution around 1820. Mexican troops occupied the presidios and Mexican governors ran the province of Alta California. The Mexican government began the process of secularization (turning church lands over to private interests) around 1831 and passed laws in 1833 mandating secularization of all missions in Mexico. Secularization gradually ended church ownership of community property. Most of the missions and presidios were abandoned and fell into disrepair as the lands were redistributed to private owners.

Mission San Diego was secularized in 1834, the two priests became mere tenants and the mission buildings began a long period of neglect.

The American Period (1846-Present)

Mission San Diego Return Land Survey

The Mexican War was declared by the U.S. Congress on 11 May 1846 in response to a Mexican attack on U.S. troops in Texas. The declaration of war opened the door for American occupation of California. The American period began when American forces occupied San Diego in 1846. With end of the war, Mexico ceded all of upper California to the Americans in 1848 and a new round of land redistribution began.

On 19 Feb 1853, Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany filed a claim on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the return of all former mission lands in the State of California. Ownership of 1,051 acres (for all practical intents being the exact area of land occupied by the original mission buildings, cemeteries, and gardens) was transferred back to the Catholic Church by land patents and proclamations signed by U.S. Presidents between 1855 and 1874.

The Mission property was used as a U.S. Army post between 1853 and 1858 by various artillery and infantry units. The church building was even used as a barracks for the troops.

Mission San Diego was returned to the Catholic Church on 23 May 1862 by a proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Copies of the land survey and the proclamation returning the Mission to the Church can be seen in the Mission Museum.

Current Status

Mission San Diego Marker

A restored mission and an active parish church in San Diego, San Diego County, California. The current mission buildings were restored in 1931.

Location: 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., San Diego, San Diego County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.78444 Long: -117.10639

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 115'

GPS Locations:



Visited: 22 Jan 2013

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