Mission San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua is a Spanish mission established by the Franciscan order in present-day Monterey County, California, near the present-day town of Jolon. Founded on July 14, 1771, it was the third mission founded in Alta California by Father Presidente Junípero Serra. The mission was the first use of fired tile roofing in Upper California.[4] Today the mission is a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey and is no longer active in the mission work which it was set up to provide.[10][11]

Mission San Antonio de Padua
Mission San Antonio de Padua
The reconstructed Mission San Antonio de Padua as it appeared in 2006; construction on the Mission first began in 1810. The baked brick Campanario is unique among California Missions.
Mission San Antonio de Padua is located in California
Mission San Antonio de Padua
Location in California
Mission San Antonio de Padua is located in the United States
Mission San Antonio de Padua
Mission San Antonio de Padua (the United States)
Locationnear Jolon, Monterey County, California
Coordinates36°00′54″N 121°15′00″W / 36.01500°N 121.25000°W / 36.01500; -121.25000
Name as foundedLa Misión de San Antonio de Padua[1]
English translationThe Mission of Saint Anthony of Padua
PatronSaint Anthony of Padua[2]
Nickname(s)"Mission of the Sierras"[citation needed]
Founding dateJuly 14, 1771[3]
Founding priest(s)Father Junípero Serra[4]
Founding OrderThird[2]
Military districtThird[5]
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Native place name(s)Telhaya[6]
Returned to the Church1862
Governing bodyRoman Catholic Diocese of Monterey
Current useParish Church
Reference no.76000504[8]
Reference no.232[9]



Beginnings of the Mission

Photograph of Mission San Antonio de Padua by landscape photographer Carleton Watkins, dating from 1873 to 1883.
False colorized photograph of Mission San Antonio de Padua from 1898.

Mission San Antonio de Padua was the third Mission to be founded in Alta California, and was located along the very earliest routing of the Camino Real. This mission was located on a site which was unfortunately somewhat remote from the more reliable water source of what later became known as the Salinas River. In that very early year of the missions, the later more favorable routing of the Camino Real, more closely aligning with the course of the Salinas River, had not yet been discovered or established.[12]

Father Junipero Serra claimed the site on July 14, 1771, and dedicated the Mission to Saint Anthony of Padua. Saint Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal and is the patron saint of the poor. Father Serra left Fathers Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar behind to continue the building efforts, though the construction of the church proper did not actually begin until 1810.

In 1805, the native people at the mission, mostly Northern Salinan (Antoniano) but also some Yokuts and Esselen,[13] had increased to 1,300. The indigenous people forced into the mission system were decimated by disease, forced labor, and harsh living conditions. By 1810, only 178 Native Americans were living at the Mission,[14] In 1834, after secularization[13] there were 150 Mission Indians remaining. No town grew up around the mission, as was usual at other missions.

In 1845, Mexican Governor Pío Pico declared all mission buildings in Alta California for sale, but no one bid for Mission San Antonio. In 1863, after nearly 30 years, the Mission was returned to the Catholic Church.[13] In 1894, roof tiles were salvaged from the property and installed on the Southern Pacific Railroad depot located in Burlingame, California, one of the first permanent structures constructed in the Mission Revival Style.


1970s view of the mission

The first attempt to rebuild the Mission came in 1903 when the California Historical Landmarks League began holding outings at San Antonio. "Preservation and restoration of Mission San Antonio began. The Native Sons of the Golden West donated $1,400. Tons of debris were removed from the interior of the chapel.the mission was restored 2 times. Breaches in the side wall were filled in."[15] Unfortunately, the earthquake of 1906 seriously damaged the building. In 1928, Franciscan friars held services at San Antonio de Padua. It took nearly 50 years to completely restore the Mission. The State of California is requiring a $12–15 million earthquake retrofit that must be completed by 2015, or the mission will be closed. As of 2011, there were 35 private families keeping the mission open. There is an active campaign to raise funds for the retrofit.[16]

Current use of the old San Antonio Mission


Despite its being still referred to as a mission, the Mission San Antonio de Padua is no longer active in Catholic missions and has become more focused as a parish church, fundraiser location, and tourist attraction.[10] In 2005, the Franciscan Friars turned over the mission's caretaking and ownership to the Diocese of Monterey.[10] Under the leadership of the Diocese of Monterey, Mission San Antonio de Padua transformed into a Catholic parish which also hosts group gatherings, gift shops and a museum with picnic grounds.[10]

Present day

Aerial view of San Antonio de Padua from October 2013

Today, the nearest city is King City, nearly 29 miles (47 kilometers) away; Jolon, a small town, is located six miles (10 km) from the Mission. Historians consider the Mission's pastoral location in the valley of the San Antonio River along the Santa Lucia Mountains as an outstanding example of early mission life.

The mission is surrounded by the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, which was acquired by the U.S. Army from the Hearst family during World War II to train troops. Additional land was acquired from the Army in 1950 to increase the mission area to over 85 acres (34 hectares). This fort is still actively training troops today.

Mission San Antonio de Padua is one of the designated tour sights of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

As of 2013, Franciscan Friar Jeff Burns OFM, is in charge of the Mission.

Beginning in 2005, a team of volunteers began restoring the gardens in the interior courtyard of the Mission. Pictured above are the restored gardens in December 2006.
Wooden ship sculpture excavated at Mission San Antonio de Padua
  • The 1965 horror film Incubus was partly filmed at the Mission. The writer and director, Leslie Stevens, concerned that the Mission authorities would not allow the film to be shot there because of the subject matter, concocted a cover story that the film was called Religious Leaders of Old Monterey, and presented a script that was about monks and farmers. He was helped in this deception by the fact that the film was shot entirely in Esperanto.[17]
  • The Mission was featured by Huell Howser in Road Trip Episode 147[18]

See also


Further reading

  • Sitjar, Bonaventura (1861). Vocabulary of the language of San Antonio mission, California. Trübner. Retrieved 25 August 2012.






  1. ^ Leffingwell, p. 99
  2. ^ a b c Krell, p. 101
  3. ^ Yenne. p. 40
  4. ^ a b Ruscin, p. 196
  5. ^ Forbes, p. 202
  6. ^ Ruscin, p. 195
  7. ^ a b c Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  8. ^ National Register of Historic Places – Monterey County
  9. ^ "Mission San Antonio de Padua". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  10. ^ a b c d "San Antonio de Padua Key Facts | California Missions Resource Center".
  11. ^ "History of California Mission San Antonio de Padua".
  12. ^ | Molera, E. J. The March of Portolá and the Discovery of the Bay of San Francisco (1909) p.35, Wordsworth Editions, ASIN : B002RKT4HG! Access date: April 5, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "San Antonio de Padua", California Missions Resource Center
  14. ^ "The History of our Mission", Mission San Antonio de Padua
  15. ^ California Missions and Their Romances, Fremont Older
  16. ^ "Campaign for the Preservation of Mission San Antonio de Padua". Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  17. ^ Miller, John M. "Incubus" (TCM article)
  18. ^ "Fort Hunter Liggett – Road Trip with Huell Howser (147) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University".