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What do You Know about the California Missions?

Sometimes when I am taking photographs at one of the California Missions, other visitors will assume that I work at the mission. It usually begins with the visitor walking up to me and saying something like, “Excuse me, could I ask you a question?”  I’ll say, “Sure, but I don’t work here.”  They almost always ask me anyway.  Often the question is one I can answer, and I’m happy to share what I know.  Recently at one mission, that led to me offering an impromptu tour for a group of about six visitors.

I’ve written four books about the missions. For each of those books, I did quite a lot of research, so I probably do know more about the missions than most visitors.  Still, I continue to learn new things all the time, and it is amazing how much I don’t know about the missions!

How much do you know about the California Missions? Could you answer five simple questions about them?  I invite you to test yourself.


When was the first California Mission founded in San Diego?

  1. 1759
  2. 1769
  3. 1779
  4. 1789

What Roman Catholic order founded the missions?

  1. Jesuits
  2. Dominicans
  3. Franciscans
  4. Benedictine

Which mission church today is the chapel at a Roman Catholic University?

  1. Santa Barbara
  2. San Luis Rey
  3. San Jose
  4. Santa Clara

Which mission was the last to be restored, in 1955?

  1. Soledad
  2. San Antonio
  3. San Luis Rey
  4. San Miguel

Three missions today have some or all their buildings protected in California State Parks. Which mission is not associated with a State Park?

  1. San Buenaventura
  2. La Purisima
  3. Santa Cruz
  4. Sonoma


Here are the answers:

The first California Mission was founded in 1769 at San Diego.  Members of the Franciscan Order founded all 21 missions.  The mission Church at Santa Clara is the chapel at Santa Clara University.  In 1955, Soledad Mission was the last to be restored.  San Buenaventura is the only one of these four missions not associated with a California State Park.