Mission San Rafael Arcangel, California

After traveling around Marin County and looking to some of the historical places on our list, we finally head toward the city where there were abundant historical places. But first we checked the GPS to the place where the city got its name. It wasn’t that hard to find we just took an exit in 101 and straight to Mission Avenue and ends at the mission compound. We took left to Court Street and park around the area. Deelow, Ta Bing and I went down and headed to the mission. But what surprised us was this mission was small and instead there was a huge church on the middle. We walked around and tried going inside the main church but it was closed. Here is the history of the mission as we walk towards the building.

The Mission

“Mission San Rafael Arcangel was founded by four friars, Fray Narcisco Duran, Fray Jose Ramon Abella, Fray Gil and Fray Vicente Francisco Sarria. Mission San Rafael Arcangel was the 20th mission built along the California coast. On December 14, 1817, Fray Sarria raised the cross and celebrated the first Mass at Mission San Rafael Arcangel.


The mission originally started out as a hospital Fray Gil was put in charge. He was known for his knowledge of medicine. He also had a caring manner, and ability to work with others. This made him the right man for the job. Many new neophytes from the Miwok Coast and Ohlone tribe joined Fray Gil and Mission San Rafael Arcangel but it still was not yet a mission. It still received food, and mission supplies from Mission San Francisco de Asis.

Junipero Serra

Any neophytes who joined Mission San Rafael Arcangel belonged to Mission San Francisco de Asis. On October 19, 1823 Mission San Rafael Arcangel finally got full independence as a mission. In 1825 Fray Juan Amoros took Fray Gil’s place. He was successful at running Mission San Rafael Arcangel that within three years they grew from 300 people to 1,000 people. Fray Juan Amoros severed for 13 years of its 17 years. Although the mission system caused many problems between the Spanish and the Indians, many positive relationships between friars and Indians were formed at Mission San Rafael Arcangel.”

Upon the information we learned that this mission was a replica made in 1949. Its already noticeable considering the size of the mission was only like a chapel. We went inside and saw a replica of the pews and main altar. It wasn’t as grand as the other catholic churches but kept it simplicity like any mission in the frontier. Here is the history of when the mission actually started.


Mission San Rafael Arcangel started out as a hospital. When the Spanish settled in California, many Indians got sick and died because they had no immunity against the new diseases the Spaniards brought. Many died from measles, smallpox and the flu. The Spanish soon realized that they needed a hospital for the Indians to recover from these diseases. At Mission San Francisco de Asis, many Indians died from these diseases. The weather around mission San Francisco de Asis was cold, damp and humid. The climate made it even harder to recuperate. To escape the diseases many neophytes escaped the mission. The missionaries did not want the neophytes deserting and therefore the friars needed to find a way to establish a hospital where the neophytes could recuperate. Unfortunately, there were few missionaries to staff a hospital and the friars did not know who to send to find a good spot to set one up.

Marin (Indian Warrior)

Fray Luis Gil y Taboada finally set out to find a good, warm and dry spot to set up a hospital. He found a warm, dry spot that the Indians called Nanaguanui, which was north of San Francisco Bay. Fray Gil, and other friars along with the help of the Indians soon set up a hospital. Indians who got sick would get wrapped up in blankets and rowed across the bay to the hospital. Soon they rested and with the help of good climate the health of the California Indians improved a lot. Word spread of the hospital and other missions started sending their sick people too. Things got better at the hospital which was soon to become Mission San Rafael Arcangel. Mission records, show that in its 17 years, San Rafael de Arcangel gained 1,873 new neophytes. Soon after it was established, the neophytes and friars started to raise livestock including sheep, cattle and horses. It wasn’t long before the friars realized Mission San Rafael Arcangel was going be a success.

We went out and didn’t go to the adjacent small convent which was closed but we peeked on the window. Inside was the gift shop and museum dedicated to the mission. We didn’t stay too long for there was nothing else to see and here is the rest of the history of the mission till its reconstruction.


“This was one of the missions turned over to the Mexican government in 1833 after the Mexican secularization act of 1833. In 1840, there were 150 Indians still at the Mission. By 1844, Mission San Rafael Arcángel had been abandoned; what was left of the empty buildings was sold for $8,000 in 1846. The Mission was used by John C. Fremont as his headquarters during the battles to make California a United States possession.

Kit Carson and Capt. Fremont

On June 28, 1846, three men departed the mission, including Kit Carson, and murdered three unarmed Californians under the order of John C. Fremont; Don José R. Berreyesa, father of José de los Santos Berreyesa, along with the twin sons of Don Francisco de Haro, Ramon and Francisco De Haro.


In 1847, a priest was once again living at the Mission. A new parish church was built near the old chapel ruins in 1861, and, in 1870, the rest of the ruins were removed to make room for the City of San Rafael. All that was left of the Mission was a single pear tree from the old Mission’s orchard. It is for this reason that San Rafael is known as the “most obliterated of California’s missions.” In 1949, a replica of the chapel was built next to the current Saint Raphael’s Church on the site of the original hospital in San Rafael, California.”

St. Raphael Church

Here are links for more information:



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