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Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen

Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen Founded Nine Missions

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Missions Founded by Father Lasuen

Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz
Soledad
San Jose
San Juan Bautista
San Miguel Arcangel
San Fernando
San Luis Rey

Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen was born on June 7, 1736 at Vitoria in Cantabria, Spain. He became a Franciscan priest in 1752 and volunteered for the American missions in1758. He was described as a man of symmetrical build with light, somewhat ruddy skin, a pockmarked face, dark eyes and dark, curly hair. He arrived in Mexico in 1761 and was sent to lower (Baja) California in 1768. In 1773, he again moved to "upper" California, arriving in San Diego on August 30.

Father Lasuen stayed in San Diego until June 1775 when he moved to Monterey. Lasuen was unhappy in California. He often asked to leave and wanted to become the personal chaplain of the commander at the presidio in Monterey, but after a long negotiation he finally refused the job.

In 1775, Lasuen and Father Gregorio Amurrio were appointed the first missionaries at Mission San Juan Capistrano. When they arrived, he said Mass, establishing the mission, but he did not remain there for long. When news arrived that the mission in San Diego had been attacked and Father Luis Jayme had been murdered, the soldiers and missionaries hurried back to San Diego. He built a new church there and enlarged the mission compound.

In the summer and fall of 1776, the missions were re-opened and Father Lasuen went with Father Serra to San Luis Obispo, where he stayed until 1777 when he was appointed minister of Mission San Diego. He served there until he became Father-President of the missions in 1785, after Father Serra died. He then moved to the Carmel Mission and stayed there until he died. He was Father-President for eighteen years, and he personally founded nine missions in California. He also expanded many older missions and he was responsible for much of the missions as we know them today.

Because of his office, Father Lasuen met a number of people who wrote about him. Captain George Vancouver described him in 1792 as having gentle manners and a placid face, Alejandro Malaspina praised his good manners in 1791 and Charles Chapman described him as a worthy successor to Father Serra. Father Serra himself called Lasuen as a religious man of exceptional example.

Lasuen never adjusted well to life in California and he repeated asked for retirement or transfer, stating that only obedience kept him here. Even as he grew older, he kept asking for a transfer or retirement. He never left California, though, and he died at the Carmel Mission on June 26, 1803. He was buried in the sanctuary there.

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