The Spanish Missions of Baja California, Part 1: The Jesuit Missions 1697-1767

Santa Maria de los Angeles: the northern-most Jesuit founded mission in California. Photography by Jack Swords (copyright)

Photographs at each mission site taken between 1998 and 2008. Older photos (if available) will appear after recent photos in order to compare. A brief description of each mission follows the photographs. Unless otherwise noted, photographs are from Jack Swords and protected by copyright. Each mission will have its official name followed by the years it was in operation. GPS map datum set at WGS84.

A mission was much more than a church building, it was an organization, an outpost in the wilderness, and a center of 'civilization'. The Jesuit missions were funded by donations of wealthy Europeans. The Spanish government wished to colonize California before the Russians or English did and the mission system was the method used to convert the native population. Instead, the diseases brought to California killed off the natives.

Besides the mission itself, there usually were several 'visitas' (mission visiting stations) for each mission where a chapel was built and the priest would visit and hold services. Some visitas were very large and their churches and functions resemebled missions. A true mission was funded by an endowment, and historic records are clear that there were 17 Jesuit missions established and operated in California (today's Baja California).

The list below includes some missions that changed their full name because of a relocation (#7, #9 and #17) thus each has a dual listing. Also, #13 (Santa Rosa at Todos Santos) was absorbed by the mission of Pilar de la Paz when Pilar de la Paz moved to Todos Santos.

1n 1683, Jesuits with Spanish soldiers first tried to colonize California. They first landed at La Paz Bay, but were soon forced north and tried again at San Bruno, just north of Loreto. The effort failed after two years and some ruins of the San Bruno fort are still visible.

The Jesuits built roads to connect their missons and visitas. Many are easily seen today and make interesting hiking or mule riding adventures. The primary mission road in California is known as EL CAMINO REAL (The King's Highway). See link to El Camino Real on last page.

The Oldest Spanish Ruins in Baja

The ruins of the failed mission and fort at San Bruno, 1683-1685. Located about 15 miles north of Loreto, near the coast. Photo by Edward Vernon. GPS: 26°13'57.5" 111°23'53.9"

Map of Northern Jesuit California Missions

Map of Southern Jesuit California Missions

The 17 Jesuit Missions

1) Nuestra Señora de Loreto Concho 1697-1829

2) San Francisco Javier de Biaundo 1699-1817 (moved 5 miles south in 1710)

3) San Juan Bautista de Ligui/ Malibat 1705-1721

4) Santa Rosalia de Mulege 1705-1828

5) San Jose de Comondu 1708-1827 (moved 22 miles south in 1736)

6) La Purisima Concepcion de Cadegomo 1720-1822 (moved 10 miles south in 1735)

7a) Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz Airapi 1720-1748 (moved to Todos Santos in 1748)

7b) Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz (Todos Santos) 1748-1840

8) Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Huasinapi 1720-1795

9a) Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Apate 1721-1741 (moved to La Pasion in 1741)

9b) Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Chilla (La Pasion) 1741-1768

10) Santiago el Apostal Aiñini 1724-1795 (moved 2 miles south in 1734)

11) Nuestro Señor San Ignacio Kadakaaman 1728-1840

12) San Jose del Cabo Aņuiti 1730-1748 & 1768-1840 (moved 3 times)

13) Santa Rosa de las Palmas (Todos Santos) 1733-1748 (absorbed by moved La Paz mission in 1748)

14) San Luis Gonzaga Chiriyaqui 1737-1768

15) Santa Gertrudis 1752-1822

16) San Francisco de Borja Adac 1762-1818

17a) Calamajue 1766-1767 (moved 30 miles north in 1767)

17b) Santa Maria de los Angeles 1767-1769

Baja California Jesuit Mission Photo Pages: Jump to a mission or click on 'next page' at bottom.

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