The Seventeeth of the California Missions
September 8, 1797
Mission of the Valley
St. Ferdinand, King of Spain in 13th century.
San Fernando Mission
Founding Father President:
Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuėn
Frs. Francisco Dumetz and Juan Lope Cortés
Established at the native site of 'Achooykomenga/Paskeeknga, In a spacious valley on the Spanish grazing concession of Rancho Los Encinos held by Don Francisco Reyes. Whereas the Spanish referred to the region as El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de los Encinos, the Tataviam called the area Achois Comihabit.
Traditional quadrangle. A large hospice called the Convento, or Long Building, branched off the quadrangle.
Several springs provided abundant water and a vast irrigation system supplied the mission and its lands.
By 1811 the mission population reached 1,081 and stayed over 1,000l for the next ten years. There were still 400 former neophytes resident at San Fernando in 1843.
In its peak year, in 1819, San Fernando had 12,800 head of cattle, which were a major source of food and revenue. The mission also had a large number of sheep, (an average of 5,000 in its peak years).
Over the years 1798 - 1832 San Fernando harvasted over 156,000 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, garbanzos (chickpeas) and habas (broad beans). The last inventory recorded 32,000 grapevines and over 1,000 fruit trees.
The simple mission church is an exact replica of the 3rd church completed in 1806 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1971.
A bell hangs in the belfry of the church. Another bell, weighing 100 pounds and dated to 1796, bears inscriptions for both Mission San Fernando and a Russian Orthodox Church official of the island of Kodiak, Alaska. It is believed by some that the bell originated with Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov's 1806 Russian trading expedition to Alta California.
The elaborate altar, reredos and pulpit are carved from walnut and date to 1687. They were originally installed in the chapel of St. Philip Neri at Ezcaray, Spain, and reassembled in part at San Fernando by California missions curator Sir Richard Joseph Menn of the Diocese of Monterey.
The Convento or Long Building, built in 1822, served as the padre's quarters and as a guest-house. A colonnade with nineteen arches borders the full length of the building, which measures 243' x 50'.
On March 8, 1842 Francisco Lopez, a majordomo on one of the mission ranches, discovered gold particles clinging to the roots of wild onion bulbs in Placerita Canyon. The gold petered out in four years, but this was the earliest gold strike in California. For years thereafter, treasure seekers dug up the mission's adobe walls and floors to find the gold they mistakenly thought the padres had hidden.
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
Active Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been responsible for the mission since 1923.
Indians Joining This Mission:
The Mission Indian neophytes of San Fernando were referred to as Fernandino, after the mission. Though originally identifiede with the Tataviam and Tongva, in the 20th century mission Indian descendants of San Gabriel and San Fernando adopted the name Tongva. The Tongva were recognized as a distinct tribe by the State of California in 1994. They have sought Federal recognition for decades.
The first marriage at San Fernando Rey took place in 1797. It was held in a little arbor on the property as the first church wasn't completed until 1799.
Restoration of the church was financed in part in 1916 by the sale of thousands of candles at $1.00 apiece.