Mission San Fernando Rey de España: A Brief History
The Mission San Fernando Rey de España is a Spanish mission in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. The mission was founded on September 8, 1797, and was the seventeenth of the twenty-one Spanish missions established in Alta California.
The mission was named for St. Ferdinand, the patron saint of Spain and, more specifically, for King Ferdinand VI of Spain. The alternate name of the mission, “Mission San Fernando”, is derived from its location in what is now known as the city of San Fernando.
History of the Mission
The site on which the Mission was founded was originally inhabited by the Tongva people, who had been living in the area for generations. In 1769, Spanish explorers discovered the area and claimed it for Spain. In 1797, Father Fermin Lasuen founded the Mission at a site that had been chosen by Father Junipero Serra.
The original adobe structure built to house the Mission’s church was only meant to be temporary; however, it ended up being used for over fifty years. In 1822, a new church building was completed and remains an active place of worship to this day.
In 1834, secularization began in California and many of the Missions were dissolved. The Mission San Fernando Rey de España was one of those Missions; however, it was not completely abandoned. In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, American troops occupied California and used the Mission as a military outpost. After the war ended and California became a state in 1850, the State Legislature passed a law return ownership of all missions to the Catholic Church.
In 1865, St. Vincent’s College (now Loyola Marymount University) was established at the Mission site by two Belgian Jesuits. The college remained there until moving to Westchester in 1929. In 1931, Franciscan Friars took over administration of the Mission from the Jesuits and remain there to this day.
If you’re ever in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and are looking for something historical and beautiful to check out, make sure to swing by Mission San Fernando Rey de España! This important piece of California history has been standing since 1797 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.