Mission San Diego is the first of the California Missions. It was founded on July 16, 1769 by Junipero Serra. The name, San Diego de Alcala, or Saint Didacus of Alcala, was given to the area by the Spanish explorers who came to the area in 1602 according to their custom of honoring a saint whose feast day was near.
Set atop a knoll, the Mission now overlooks a suburban thoroughfare. The facade is well-kept and nicely landscaped. You pay a small admission fee and enter through the gift shop. It was peaceful and quiet inside the grounds. We were there on a weekday, but I’m not sure how busy it gets even on a weekend.
The self-guided tour starts off with a room showing living conditions of the day and giving historical information about the site and the Mission. Continuing around the compound you go through the Church and gardens. There’s also a small museum, where I mostly checked out the books and maps they had in the displays.
There is a hut built in the way of the local native peoples, the Kumeyaay. Also an archeological site, although I couldn’t quite tell if it was in progress or what.
On the way back out the gift shop one of the volunteers asked if we had noticed that the Jesus in the altar didn’t have any arms. Apparently the story goes that this particular Jesus with no arms was found as a replacement. The Father who found him was thinking he would bring the statue back from Europe, take it over to Tijuana and get some arms put on before installing it in the Church. However the parishioners found out before that was done, and wanted to see the statue. Once seen, they insisted it be installed as is, saying, “We (the congregation) are the arms of Jesus.”
Ain’t that innersting factoid from website:
“In 1976, Mission San Diego de Alcala was named a basilica. A basilica is a church of very important historical significance. It is an honor bestowed upon a church by the Pope. Only four of the California missions are basilicas: Mission San Francisco de Asis (Dolores), Mission San Carlos Borromeo, Mission San Diego and most recently, Mission San Juan Capistrano.”