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Fodor's Southern California 2014
Mission San Gabriel Archangel
Mission San Gabriel Archangel Review
Wondering where the Mission District got its name? Here's the answer. Established in 1771 as the fourth of 21 missions founded in California, this massive adobe complex was dedicated by Father Junípero Serra to St. Gabriel. Within the next 50 years, the San Gabriel Archangel became the wealthiest of all California missions. In 1833 the Mexican government confiscated the mission, allowing it to decline. The U.S. government returned the mission to the church in 1855, but by this time the Franciscans had departed. In 1908 the Claretian Missionaries took charge and poured much care into preserving the rich history. The cemetery here, the first in L.A. County, is said to contain approximately 6,000 Gabrieleno Indians. Tranquil grounds are lushly planted and filled with remnants of what life was like nearly two centuries ago. The museum underwent a renovation in 2006 to further preserve the 1812 structure that originally served as the living space for the mission fathers. Public mass is held at the mission Sunday morning at 7 and 9:30. If you're lucky, you'll hear the six bells that ring out during special services—a truly arresting experience. You can take a self-guided tour of the grounds here by purchasing a map in the gift shop or come for History Day the first Saturday of the Month. Docent led tours are also available by appointment.
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