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Biography of Junipero Serra

The Founding of San Francisco, by Edward F. O'Day

Founding of the Mission Dolores

Missions of the Spanish Era had Wide Influence, by F. Gordon O'Neill

“Ranch and Mission Days in Alta California,” by Guadalupe Vallejo

Bells of the Mission Dolores Basilica (in RealAudio)

Beetle Attack forces Closure of the
Mission – 2000

First Church in San Francisco
Was Tule Arbor Built June, 1776

view of the Mission DoloresThe first church in San Francisco was the little tule arbor built by the Spanish soldiers on the site where later the Mission Dolores was constructed. It was on June 29, 1776, that the first services were conducted here.

Lieut. Jose Joaquin Moraga with a little band of soldiers and colonists left Monterey Presidio June 17, 1776, for San Francisco bay to establish both a presidio and a mission here. Father Francisco Palou and Father Pedro Cambon accompanied the expedition as founders of the mission.

Of this expedition and its arrival on the shores of San Francisco bay Father Engelhardt [Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt O.S.F., 1851-1934] of the Mission Santa Barbara writes in his book on the Mission Dolores:

“Four days' journey from the port of San Francisco, in the great plain named for San Bernardino, Fr. Palou writes, the expedition observed in the distance a herd of 15 elk. The soldiers gave chase, but succeeded in killing only three of the beasts.

“On June 27th, Fr. Palou relates, the expedition arrived near its destination. The commander, therefore, ordered the camp to be pitched on the bank of a lagoon which Senor Anza had named Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, and which is in sight of the Ensenada de los Llorones, and of the bay or arm of the sea that extends to the southeast. Here all were to await the transport ship to mark out the site on which to locate the fort and presidio while the country was being explored.”

In his vida, Fr. Palou is a little more explicit. There he notes:

“On June 27 we reached the vicinity of the port and pitched camp, which was composed of 15 tents, on the bank of a large lagoon which empties its waters into the arm of the sea or the port that extends inland 15 leagues to the southeast. The object was to wait for the ship to mark out the site for the presidio near a favorable anchorage. No sooner had the expedition gone into camp than many pagan Indians appeared in a friendly manner and with expressions of joy at our coming. Their satisfaction increased when the experienced the kindness with which we treated them and when they received the little trinkets we would give them in order to attract them, such as beads and estables. They would repeat their visits and bring little things in keeping with their poverty, such as shellfish and wild seeds.

“On the day of our arrival, the commander ordered an enramada (arbor) to be constructed which was to serve as a chapel for celebrating the holy sacrifice of the mass. On an alter erected with I celebrated the first holy mass on June 29, the feast of the great holy Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. My companion missionary celebrated holy mass there every day for an entire month until the camp of the soldiers was transferred to the site near the landing place.”

Hence, June 29, 1776, five days before the Declaration of Independence, was really the date of the founding of the Mission Dolores, or San Francisco de Asis, although officially other dates are reported.

The Bulletin
Diamond Jubilee Edition
September 1925

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