San Luis Rey de Francia


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Founded: June 13, 1798

Founder: Father Fermin Lasuen

Status: Active Catholic Church

Indian tribes native to surrounding area: Luiseõ, Ipai, Cupeño, Cahuilla

Nickname: The King of the Missions

Location: 4050 Mission Avenue, San Luis Rey, CA 92068

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San Luis Rey de Francia

Named in honor of France’s King Louis IX, a Spanish ally, the mission benefited from a local Indian population that was already familiar with the Spanish settlers from the long-established mission communities at San Diego and San Juan Capistrano. It quickly became one of the largest and most prosperous in the mission system, and operated two asistencias, or sub-missions.

The beautiful church façade is a perfect example of late mission architecture. The mission complex also featured sunken gardens, a laundry, and a charcoal-filtered spring.

In 1893, a Franciscan novitiate was established on the site; it later became San Luis Rey College. Today it is a retreat and conference center.

Key Events

1798 – Mission founded.

1816 – asistencia (sub-mission) at San Antonio de Pala established.

1823 – asistencia (sub-mission) at Las Flores established.

1834 – Mission secularized.

1865 – Returned to Catholic Church.

1893 – Franciscan novitiate established; it later became San Luis Rey College.

Visiting the San Luis Rey de Francia Mission

In addition to the beautiful cruciform church and octagonal chapel, visitors will see a sunken garden area with original tiles, a water system, kilns, archeological excavations, and a museum.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, circa 1910.
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, circa 1910.
Adobe arch in mission courtyard.  Photo by Geographer.
Adobe arch in mission courtyard. Photo by Geographer.
Mission doors.  The "flowing water" design was a common mission style.
Mission doors. The “flowing water” design was a common mission style.