Mission Dolores: Birthplace to the City
 of San Francisco & San Francisco Bay Area 

History || A Sorrowful Meeting ||
A Contemporary Ohlone Indian viewpoint  

Three years later the writer would become the curator of Mission Dolores. Followed by a more angry view saying the US Congressional funding expected in 2005 should spotlight the effectively genocidal policies of the California Missions

Lady of Sorrows  or Señora de los Dolores 
Official |
 [F] Mission Dolores in our afourm 
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California & Mission Dolores Web Guide || School || Photos || Sound || Cemetery || The Rest || More Mission History 

official birthday of the City and the Mission. 10:00am Eucharist in the Old Mission, commemoration ceremonies following in the Cemetery/Garden. All are welcome.
Call for information (415) 621-8203.

On June 29, 1776, Fathers Francisco Palou celebrated Mass in honor of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on the shores of the small lake very near the geographical center of today's City of San Francisco. Earlier that year, a scouting party under the direction of Juan Bautista de Anza visited the area and named the small stream and lake after the Saint of the day, Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Lake of Our Lady of Sorrows). Today we celebrate this day as the official birthday of the not only the City of San Francisco and  Mission Dolores but the great 9 county metro area known simply as the Bay Area 
3321 16th Street at Dolores Street
San Francisco, CA 94114 
Tel 415-621-8203
Fax: 415-621-2294

near the Upper Market/Castro/Mission Districts of San Francisco.
  Nearest Metro/Subway Stop: J-K-L-M-N & BART, 5 minute walk
  Nearest Bus Stop: F, 14, 22, 26, 33, 5 minute walk

official site
The Mission is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. In addition to its unique historic, religious, and architectural significance, Mission Dolores has always had a central place in the civic and cultural life of San Francisco
Mission Dolores Elementary School, founded by three Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1856 on orchard land surrounding Mission San Francisco de Asis, the oldest mission church in California.

History  ||TOP ||
On June 29, 1776, just a few days before the Declaration of Independence was being signed on the opposite coast,  the first Mission Dolores site was being dedicated a half block from the corner of 16th & Valencia. The California historic marker shows it sited on the Lake of the Lady of Sorrows or theDownload intersection of Camp and Albion. When the 198 Spanish priests, soldiers and Mexican settlers led by Lt. Don Jose Joaquin Moraga  made this site of the Mission the first public building they named it San Francisco de Asis but the people chose to call it Mission Dolores. Fairly close to the geographic center of the spectacular landscape where the City and metro area of San Francisco began, the  church moved two inward to the base of Liberty Hill 15 years later.  

Earlier that year the Commander Anza had said that while the fort shall be built where the entrance to the port is narrowest the town on the mesa behind it, and the mission in this quiet beautiful valley, sufficiently near the fort to be under its protection, but far enough away to insure its peaceful serenity

The 114 by 22 foot Mission Dolores building is the San Francisco Bay Area's oldest surviving structure, even the 1906 earthquake which took down the neighboring basilica did not harm the Adobe building built by Christianized Ohlone Indians. Constructed of thousands of adobe bricks arranged in a block 10 feet thick and set on a foundation of rock four feet below the surface the building is most distinguished by its brilliant facade of whitewashed adobe bricks.  

The sixth of 21 Spanish mission churches ordered built by  King Carlos III of Spain  to better lay claim to the mythical land of California. The first mission was established in 1769 in San Diego and the last built in Sonoma in 1823. The two entrusted with the ambitious project of bringing civilization to California were Father Juniper Serra and Lieutenant Juan Bautista de Anza. The missions were each a day's journey apart and were linked by El Camino Real or King's Highway.  In the grassy median strip center of Dolores Street, just outside the main entry  where authorities wish to erect statues commemorating the birth of the Bay Area, is a Mission Bell which at one time could be found all along the historic El Camino Real. 

The nearby pueblo was named Yerba Buena but eventually took the name of the Mission San Francisco and the surrounding neighborhood became known simply as The Mission. The Mission Dolores Basilica was visited by Pope John Paul As time went by the town took the name of Saint Francis, while the mission more popularly became known as Mission Dolores. The Mission is still known

 SORROWFUL MEETING of Two cultures ||TOP ||

For thousands of years, the native Ohlone had hunted the Bay's local wildlife and, from their nearby encampments, gathered tule reeds and other creekside plants to build boats, roofs, mat and baskets. Overnight the people were asked and then required to leave their way of life for a  repressive agricultural labor system.

Olhones on the Bay as sketched by Russian sailor. 
Proof that the Olhone invented the double headed paddle

The coastal area stretching from San Francisco to Monterey Bay was home to forty or so culturally diverse native tribes now known collectively as the Ohlone This name was given by the the Miwok Indians who lived in North and East  Bay and it has in recent years replaced the Costeños name originally given by the Spaniards   The Olhone enjoyed an easy life as a mobile society of hunter-gatherers since the region provided abundant game, waterfowl, shellfish, native plants, and fish. The are said to have invented the double headed paddle.  

Mission Dolores never met the expectations of its founders: A total of 6,536 Indians and 448 Mexicans were baptized there, while 5,187 Indians and 150 Mexicans were buried in the cemetery next door. The coastal fog made agricultural crops marginally successful and the Indians were frequent deserters. How the Jesuit priests coped with this problem is the source of continuing controversy.

 As through most of the Americas, it was the European diseases, which was responsible for the elimination of most of the native population. In the 77 years of Spanish and Mexican control of California, the native population declined from about 300,000 to 150,000.  There were considerable problems with disease at Mission Dolores. In 1817, the future Mission San Rafael Archangela  was opened in San Rafael as a hospital mission where the Mission Dolores inhabitants could enjoy the recuperative elements of sunshine. 



Manuel Valencia (1856-1935). Mission Dolores, n.d. Oil on canvas. Gift of M. Calder. California Historical Society, Fine Arts collection, FN-31963.

Still only a relatively small percentage of Indians in California had become "civilized" by the mid 19th century but all knew that there was no returning to the idyllic existence they had known before the Missionaries arrived

The California missions were taken over by an anti-clerical Mexican government in 1833 and soon fell into ruin by the government which could not afford their upkeep. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission system and sell all of the lands.  Sergeant Francisco DeHaro received 2,000 acres of wetlands and pasture around Mission Dolores from the Mexican government 

San Francisco boasted a mere 459 residents in June of 1847. By December of 1849 that number had swelled to nearly 30,000 The Gold Rush would mark the point where innocence of the Olhone way of life was forever lost. Even Mission Dolores hosted saloons,  two race tracks and bear & bull fights on  its property

The Mission was returned to the Catholic Church in 1857. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so since that time.

Today the Mission greets 200,000 and 15,000 school children each year. The striking designs in the unusual ceiling are the original Indian designs in stripes of mustard yellow, gray, white, and red. The redwood ceiling beams are lashed together with rawhide thong. The church is decorated with many icons some which came from Mexico but others made of redwood must have been made at Mission Dolores.

Our Lady of Sorrows||TOP ||

The Mission still retains it's official name as Mission San Francisco de Asis however from the very beginning everyone has referred to it as Mission Dolores. One reason for this popular adoption would have been the small lagoon the Mission was built beside named for Nuestra Senora de los Dolores or Our Lady of Sorrows 

At the Cross her station keeping,
    Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
    Close to Jesus to the last.

 Stabat Mater well known medieval hymn

 Mary the mother of God can also be experienced as the Lady of  Sorrows Through her own experience of sorrow she was taught the sympathy which enables her to comfort us her children in all our afflictions. God has gaven her a mighty and a sympathetic heart for this great task.

Another reason why the Mission neighborhood refers to itself as the Heart of the City and along with surrounding neighborhoods is proud to count as residents  some of the most the most liberal and progressive thinkers and voters in the state.

O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
pray for us

"Those who implore her aid in virtue of her sufferings may confidently expect her assistance." 

Our Lady of Sorrows is traditionally depicted in art dressed in black with seven swords piercing her heart.
  • Our Lady of Sorrows by John O’Connell
    "On Calvary we can contemplate two altars: one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary. Jesus immolated his own flesh: Mary immolated her own soul."
  • Our Lady of Sorrows Novena Our Lady Of Sorrows Novena 
    For the nine days between September 7 (the vigil of the feast of the Birth of Mary) and September 15 (the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows), we pray for the intercession of Mary, the Mother of our Life, our Faith and our Hope
  • Our Lady of Sorrows by Saint Benedict Center Slaves of the The Immaculate Heart of Mary Many beleivers will say seven Hail Mary Mother of God and you may believe that the Blessed Virgin will not leave your petition unanswered. In mysteries of the Rosary there are seven of her sorrows that have been chosen for special veneration. 
  • Lenten Meditation II 
  • Mary Page presents the second of five Lenten meditations. This devotional traditions that have evolved over the centuries which link Mary to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
    (at left) The Sorrowful Mother
    II Sassoferrato, 1609-1685 
An Ohlone rembers||TOP ||
``When I stand outside Mission SanJose, I tell people that it's true that the way of life of my ancestors no longer exists because of the presence of this colonial institution,'' said Andrew Galvan, an Ohlone Indian who is helping raise money to preserve the missions.

``On the other hand, when I go inside I see the place where my great-great-grandfather was baptized.

``I find myself in an odd juxtaposition,'' said Galvan, who is an archaeologist interested in the 3,000-year history of his people.

``These missions were built by Indians and for Indians,'' Galvan said. ``We are all connected to these missions, as a spiritual home, as a symbol of the survival of a people, or as a symbol of oppression.

Galvan says he wants to be sure ``the Indian story is not forgotten in the mission story.''
He was at Mission Dolores in San Francisco for its 224th birthday celebration recently and led a prayer in the churchyard to the four directions of the world. ``There are 5,000 Ohlone burials in that yard,'' he said, ``and it was important that someone like me should lead a prayer for them.
Campaign to Rescue the 21 California Missions 7/12/2000 - San Francisco Chronicle

Sometime soon, the House will give final consideration to the California Mission Preservation Act, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., providing $10 million to help restore California's Roman Catholic Missions
SFgate.com OPEN FORUM The dark, terrible secret of California's missions
by Elias Castillo  November 8, 2004
"The Spanish crown decreed in the 1760s that the Indians were to be rounded up, baptized into Christianity and their culture destroyed. It was the same policy that Spain had followed in eradicating the complex and advanced cultures of the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs in Latin America.....Additionally, the act must also require that funds be set aside for research to be conducted on mission grounds for the purpose of determining if mass graves of Indians exist within them. "

  [F] 9NOV-2004 RESPONSE TO CASTILLO Legacy of Father Serra is loving & caring
 [F] 11NOV-2004 Mission of the Missions : letters to sfgate.com

MissionsofCalifornia.org || News

Only two of the 21 missions are funded by a government agency, Ameil says. All of them are short of money. ``There is no one entity looking after the long-term restoration and preservation needs,'' he said.

rahunzi.com/costano/index.html ||IndianCanyon.org
Ohlone/ Coastanan Indian web site

The Ohlone People by calhist.org 



0June 29sfmission/sfbirthplace
2001 marks the 225th Commemoration:
`If it could be well settled, like Europe,'' wrote Pedro Font in 1776, Anza's chaplain and diarist, ``there would not be anything more beautiful in the wor
Click to ViewRescue Mission  S.F. foundation embarks on a restoration campaign of California Missions
d.''7/12/2000 - Chronicle
Click to View Click to View Click to View Click to View  Click to View
powder- post beetles, an extremely tough pest. The beetles were busy chewing away at irreplaceable works of art, including statues of the saints brought from Mexico by sea in 1796 and 1810.
The Move of Statues of Spaniards to Historic Cite Incites Outrage - Mission site called concession to colonialism ||
  05/30/2000 - Chronicle Early California Statues Going to Mission Dolores With strong references to the displacement of Latins in the Mission, Supervisors took a lot of incoming about taking note of one its more important pieces of history. 
06/07/2000 - Chronicle

The equestrian statue of Anza was a gift in 1967 from the governor of the Mexican state of Sonora,

Anza Requested permission from the viceroy to discover a route to Alta California in 1772, something his father had done in 1737 but was killed by Apaches before he could make the journey
Historic Anza Expedition 
Culiacán to San Francisco

"Anza's character may be read in the pages of his diary. He was by nature simple and kindly, responsive to the call of duty and true to the "chivalrous traditions of heroic Spain." It is not easy to estimate the value of the services of this gallant soldier, and the monument erected in San Francisco to the Pioneers of California is incomplete without his name." 

The Beginnings of San Francisco
CHAPTER VI. The Foundation of San Francisco, 1775-1776 1999-2000 Ron Filion 

 King Carlos III was a 1976 bicentennial gift to the city from Spain's current king, Juan Carlos . 


The King of Spain from 1759 to 1788, was the most dynamic of the Bourbon monarchs. A product of the Enlightenment, his imprint is everywhere in the architecture and planning of modern Madrid. 
It was his  initiative to civilize California  by financing the founding of the 21 Missions and military bases on West Coast. 
 The need to resist the territorial ambitions of Imperial Russia was the behind the initiative.

Photos courtesy of the San Francisco Arts Commission via SFgate

California Missions Web Guides  |TOP |

 official web site

Please note:  Mission Dolores cannot answer research questions
All such requests will be referred to the Archdiocesan Archives or the Oakland Family History Center.

Volunteer at Mission Dolores
Mission Dolores Author: Br. Guire Cleary, S.S.F at sfhistory.org the curator and museum director for many years published this paper here


www.CaliforniaMissions.com  || Dolores History
Featuring histories for each of the twenty-one California Missions,  beautiful photographs & sketches, plus authentic mission music written by the Spanish padres and the Native Americans who lived and worked there.

Mission bells mark the road again - Nostalgic symbols indicate Spanish-era route from Los Angeles to San Francisco
11/nov/2004 - San Francisco Chronicle

California Missions  || Mission Dolores
 The chain of 21 missions along California's El Camino Real ("The Royal Highway") represent the first arrival of non-Native Americans to California. Life for the California Native Americans was forever changed. In addition to Christianity, the missions brought many other things to California such as livestock, fruits, flowers, grains and industry.

California Mission Studies Association or ca-missions.org For the Study and Preservation of the California Missions, Presidios, Pueblos, and Ranchos and Their Native American, Hispanic, and Early American Past.

School Project

Photos ||TOP ||

  •   California Mission Sketches 
    38 Henry Miller  California Mission Sketches, 1856 
    he Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley. California 94720-6000
  • California Missions at tripod.com/~ArtistFromHungary
    The of twenty-one California missions, historical reminders of the great Franciscan  adventure,  the ruins of which stand in wonder and beauty along 600 miles of glorious golden coast  region
  • California Missions || Mission Dolores Historic Photos of the Missions



Coro Hispano de San Francisco 
directed by Mission Dolores conductor Juan Pedro Gaffney and based at Mission Dolores 
dedicated to a single but multi-faceted ideal: researching, promoting, and performing the music repertories of the Iberian and Iberoamerican peoples

The Mission Dolores Basilica Organ

Listen in Real Audio to resurrected spiritual music from the Mission days


Cemetery||TOP ||
Mission Dolores venerable graveyard was made famous in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, "Vertigo." The nearby celebrated Dolores park was once the cemetery for Congregation Sherith Israel

La Mision San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores Cemetery)


From the official web site:
Many notable San Franciscans buried here:
Mission Dolores is the final resting place of some 5,000 Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians who built Mission Dolores and were its earliest members and founders. Other notables include the first Mexican governor


The Rest||TOP ||

Misión San Francisco De Asis (Mission Dolores)  
- Registered Landmark Number One ...." Interior and exterior photos of present-day mission structure, historical photographs 1816-1906, 2 floor plans and elevations done by the WPA for the Historic American Buildings Survey, some historical data, and visitor information.

The spirit of Father Junipero 
who was responsible for the first 9 California Missions
Born Miguel Joseph Serra on the island of Mallorca, Father Junipero left home at 15 to attend the university in Palma. At 17 he joined the Franciscan order and took the name Junipero, which means Jester of God. At 36, after teaching in Spain for several years, he sailed for the New World, arriving in Vera Cruz, Mexico

More Mission History

MURAL www.missioncreek.org  ||  Planning Update April 2001
a “rails to trails” effort to reuse the historic route of San Francisco’s premier inland waterway, preserved by the railroads as an industrial transportation corridor, and now being updated for our City’s evolving transportation needs
UCSF is moving downstream from Mission Creek and reviews the history of the area including Olhone time

Explore the Liberty/Hill Historic District, one of San Francisco's
earliest and most intact Victorian neighborhoods. We'll see modest mansions ...

History || A Sorrowful Meeting || Indian viewpoint || Lady of Sorrows  ||California & Mission Dolores Web Guide || School || Photos || Sound || Cemetery || The Rest || More Mission History


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