Franciscans at Baja California Missions (1768-1773)

Franciscan Missions Baja

By David Kier

To replace the removed Jesuits at their missions in California (Baja California today), sixteen members of the Franciscan Order led by Fr. Junípero Serra came to Loreto and in April, 1768 received their assignments. The Jesuits were operating 14 missions of their 17 at the time of the expulsion, in February, 1768. The mission of San José del Cabo was reduced from a being a mission to a visita of Santiago in 1748. It was returned to full mission status with the arrival of the Franciscans. The Ligüí and Santa Rosa missions were the other two terminated by the Jesuits during their 70 years in California.


April 5, 1768:

Loreto: Junípero Serra and Fernando Parron

San Francisco Javier: Francisco Palóu

Santa Rosalía de Mulegé: Juan Ignacio Gaston

San José de Comondú: Antonio Martínez*

La Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó: Juan Crespi

Nuestra Señora del Pilár (Todos Santos): Juan Ramos de Lora

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe: Juan Sancho de la Torre

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (La Pasión): Francisco Gómez

Santiago: José Murguía*

San Ignacio de Kadakaamán: Miguél de la Campa y Cos

San José del Cabo: Juan Moran

San Luis Gonzaga: Andrés Villaumbrales

Santa Gertrudis: Dionisio Basterra

San Francisco de Borja: Francisco de Lasuén*

Santa María de los Angeles: Juan de Medina Beitia

* These three were the only Franciscans who remained at their missions beyond 1768 and only Lasuén remained at his original assignment all 5 years.

In August and September of 1768 the missions of San Luis Gonzaga and Dolores were closed by the Spanish Inspector General José de Gálvez, and their neophyte Indians were transferred to Todos Santos.

In 1769, Junípero Serra began the great land expedition north from Loreto to San Diego. In his diary, he notes the Franciscans who met him along the way to the northernmost mission (Santa María). Francisco Palóu would be administrator in Baja California during Serra’s expedition.

The following list is of the Franciscans at the missions after the initial 1768 assignments. They may have been there other times than the years given. Most were transferred to other missions during their short time in Baja California. Many transferred to Alta California missions when the Dominicans arrived.


loreto mission bajaLoreto

Juan Ramos de Lora 1769-1772

José Murguía 1770

Vicente Santa María 1771-1772

Fernando Parron 1772


San Francisco Javier

Fernando Parron 1768

Juan Escudero 1769-1771

Ramon Uson 1771-1772

Vicente Santa María 1772-1773


Santa Rosalía de Mulegé

Francisco Gómez 1768-1769

Benito Sierra 1769- 1773

Pedro Arriguibar 1771


San José de Comondú

Juan Prestamero 1771-1773

Tomás de la Peña 1771-1772

Vicente Imas 1771


La Purísima

Miguél de la Campa y Cos 1768-1769

Juan Ignacio Gaston 1768-1773

Antonio Martínez 1769 (from Comondú)

Francisco Eschasco 1771

Martin Palacios 1771


todos santos mission bajaTodos Santos

José Murguía 1769

Marcelino Senra 1771

Miguel Sánchez 1771-1773



Andrés Villaumbrales 1770

Manuel Lago 1771-1772



Juan Antonio Garcia Riobó 1770-1771

Francisco Villuendas 1771


San Ignacio

Juan de Medina Beitia 1769-1771

José Legomera 1771


san jose del cabo baja missionSan José del Cabo

Juan Antonio Garcia Riobó 1770-1773

Francisco Villuendas 1771


Santa Gertrudis

Juan Sancho de la Torre 1770

Gregorio Amurrio 1771-1773


San Borja

Andrés Villaumbrales 1769

Juan Figuer 1771


Santa María

Francisco de Lasuén 1769 (from San Borja)

Miguél de la Campa y Cos 1769-1773 (from San Fernando)

Vicente Fuster 1771-1773 (from San Fernando)

Antonio Linares 1771 (from San Fernando)


San Fernando de Velicatá (founded May 14, 1769)

Junípero Serra 1769

Miguél de la Campa y Cos 1769-1773

Vicente Fuster 1771-1773

Antonio Linares 1771


During the five years in Baja California, much was found in need of repair and construction. What the Franciscans are credited with building include the adobe church and rooms at Santa María, a larger adobe church at San Borja, and the stone visita chapel at La Presentación.

The Baja California missions were all transferred from the Franciscans to the Dominican Order in May, 1773.



‘The Missions and Missionaries of California’ (Vol. 1, Lower California) by Zephyrin Engelhardt, 1929

‘The Call to California’ by Richard Pourade, 1968

‘The Old Missions of Baja & Alta California, 1697-1834’ by Max Kurillo and David Kier, 2012


David Kier is co-author of ‘The Old Missions of Baja & Alta California, 1697-1834’.  The book is available for purchase HERE or at the DBTC offices (call 800-727-2252).  You can also read about the history of all of the Missions of Baja California.


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