Pala Asistencia

(Mission San Antonio de Pala)

San Diego de Alcala ~ San Luis Rey ~ Pala ~ Santa Ysabel ~ Las Flores

Pala Assistencia

During what may be called the beginning of the Mexican era two mission asistencias were built in the San Diego district.

Twenty miles inland from Mission San Luis Rey the sub-station San Antonio de Pala was founded probably on June 13, 1816. It is known generally as Pala Mission.

The adobe chapel that has since served the Indians at this beautiful spot was originally 144 by 27 feet, the interior walls being rudely decorated by native artists. Outside, near the cemetery entrance, rose the unique bell tower, than which perhaps no other single feature of Franciscan mission architecture in all California has been more admired. As restored in 1916 after having been completely demolished by torrential rains, it presents an interesting example of almost exact duplication of the original, standing 35 feet above its base, which is 15 feet from the ground. Steps at the rear lead to the two bells swinging on rawhide thongs one above the other. A cross surmounts the campanile, and beside it very fittingly now grows a cactus; for the oldest stories about Pala include mention of the prickly pear that grew at the foot of the cross.

Soon after Mission San Luis Rey began to flourish, Fr. Peyri had become aware of the necessity for this sub-station at or near Pala. It was the natural congregating place of large numbers of mountain Indians. Before 1819 more than a thousand had been baptized and enrolled as Luisenos.

[From an article by Winifred Davidson in Carl Heilbron's History of San Diego, 1936]

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San Diego County Historical Landmark #243