San Antonio de Pala Asistencia
Navigation for San Luis Rey de Francia:
San Antonio de Pala was a sub-mission of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. It was established in 1816 by Padre Antonio Peyri and is the only surviving Asistencia in the mission system and the only mission-related structure still ministering to an Indian population. The Asistencia was named in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua, nicknamed the "Wonderworker of the world." Pala continues to be an active Church. Only the Church and cemetery were open on the day I visited.
The cemetery is behind the bell tower. It is the original cemetery for the Asistencia and contains the remains of hundreds of Indian converts and early California settlers. It is still in use as evidenced by some of the current dates on the headstones.
1810. The first recorded mention of Rancho de Pala appeared in Padre Antonio Peyri's Mission San Luis Rey Mission annual report appeared. He recorded building a granary at that location. Six years later a chapel was built and...
18 June 1816. Padre Peyri dedicated the Pala Asistencia. It became prosperous and up to 1,300 converts were ministered to from dedication to the time the mission system went into decline.
1818. A town started to take shape around the Asistencia and after three years Padre Mariano Payeras noted that all that was lacking to make Pala a complete mission was a resident priest.
1827. The Asistencia was at a peak of prosperity. In a report José Maria Echeandía wrote that Mission San Luis Rey "has a station called San Antonio de Pala with a church, dwellings and granaries and with a few fields where wheat, corn, beans, garbanzos, and other leguminous plants are grown."
Late 1830s. The Asistencia underwent secularization. This started a time of decline for the property
14 November 1845. Pala, along with Mission San Luis Rey, was sold to Jose A. Cot and Jose A. Pico. That sale was later nullified but it started a process of sales of various mission properties. Fortunately, Pala was located away from the main lines of travel at the time so the Indians were able to keep the chapel and some of the grounds in repair.
1899. An earthquake damaged the chapel. It was repaired by the Indians with the help of the Landmarks Club. Likewise, when a flood damaged the campanile, it was rebuilt by the Indians.
1902. The U.S. Government decided to remove Indians from the Warner's Ranch area. Property near Pala was purchased and used for this move in the Spring of 1903.
1903. The Asistencia was returned to the Catholic Church through the Landmarks Club which has been able to purchase it from a private owner.
1954. Father Januarius Carillo started a restoration program where original bricks would be made and used to rebuild the original quadrangle. Cedar logs were brought from the Palomar Mountain for this reconstruction.
1959. The restoration of the original quadrangle was completed.
1992. The chapel underwent extensive restoration due to termite damage in the roof.
Along Pala Mission Road (just North of California 76) in Pala, 23 miles from Interstate 5 along California 76. If coming from Oceanside turn left from Highway 76 just at the Pala Casino and proceed through the town to the Asistencia.
The California landmark sign is not at the asistencia site but is, instead, on a marker along Highway 76 in a position in line with the asistencia were it along the highway.