Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Sharing information about the Mission’s unmarked graveyard; the “martyr” spot; and the adobe brick crosses

San Diego is the site of the first of the California Missions.

A Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala is a bit disappointing. Why? There is no marked graveyard here. I do recognize that each site has its’ unique characteristics to accommodate the local area.

The original San Diego Mission site is near Old Town San Diego, founded in 1769. Franciscan priest Junipero Serra decided to move the Mission to its current location (inland) in 1774. He wanted it to be closer to the Kumeyaay village, a water source, and good soil for crops.

My photo of the front of Mission San Diego de Alcala.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Father Jayme Cross

The cross shown in the photos below is a memorial to Father Luis Jayme. He died here on the Southeast side of the Mission complex. His efforts to “calm” the Kumeyaay villagers attacking the church did not help. Their protest of their forced labor resulted in the site burning to the ground. The Catholic church declared Father Jayme to be the first Christian martyr in California.

My photo showing the sign and the cross dedicated to Father Jayme, outside of the Mission compound.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo showing a close-up of the cross and plaque dedicated to Father Jayme.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo showing a close-up view of the plaque deicating the cross to Father Jayme.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Entering the Mission

If you want to attend a church service here, it is free. If not, you have to pay an entrance fee in the gift shop. The photos below show the brochure you receive, with a map of the site. My finger shows the area off the map where I think the graveyard is located.

Casa de Los Padres

The Casa de Los Padres is directly behind the gift shop. This room is an example of the sleeping quarters for the priests. It has a diorama showing the Mission as it was first built. None of the structures in the model have a label. In my photos below you can see what looks to have been the graveyard in the Southeast section.

My photo showing the diorama of the original Mission buildings inside the Casa de Los Padres
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

(In the photo below, I point at what I think is the location of the graveyard)

My photo of the diorama of the original Mission buildings, as I point to what I think is the site of the graveyard
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Meditation Garden

In my photos below, the nice garden area is just West of the chapel, near the Campanario or Bell Tower. It is one of the points of interest for a Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala. There are seven or eight adobe crosses dedicated to the Kumeyaay. The Franciscans forced the Kumeyaay to make the bricks under slave conditions. In the second photo below, “The Garden” sign mentions the memorial crosses.

My photo of the Meditation Garden, with a view of the Bell Tower
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo of the sign in the Meditation Garden.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo-View of several of the adobe brick crosses in the Meditation Garden.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo showing a close view of one of the adobe crosses dedicated to the Kumeyaay that made the bricks as slave labor
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Buried at the Altar

A white marble cross is visible in the brick floor next to the Altar. It protects the remains of five individuals. Among them are Father Jayme, Father Juan Figuer, and Father Juan Mariner. Each of them served at the Mission.

My photo-overall view of the chapel and altar.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala
My photo-view of the chapel altar.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala
My photo-view of the marble cross in the brick floor near the altar.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

Graveyard?

Nothing in the brochures indicates the location of the graveyard. I didn’t see any signs near the gate in the first photo below. This location, as best I can tell, matches the spot on the diorama in the priest’s quarters.

The gate to the field is locked. We could not walk around the field to look for burial markers. The large cross in the middle is the only visible indication of a graveyard.

My photo-view of the gate at what I think is the graveyard.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo-view of a large cross in what I think is the graveyard.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

My photo showing the field that I think is the graveyard.  A large cross is displayed near the center of the field.
Taphophile visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala

References

Home – Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá (missionsandiego.org)

Visit Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala | California Missions

About the author – Cultures and Graves

Black and white sketch of a skeleton sitting down reading a book

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Black and white sketch of a skeleton sitting down reading a book

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