Even though the Mission San Rafael Archangel is not the original mission chapel from the early 1800’s, it is still a lovely replica of what was built and used by the Spanish missionaries who came in 1817. Interestingly, its original purpose was two-fold: one, to serve as a sanitorium for members of the main parish – San Francisco’s Mission Dolores; and two, to act as a bulwark against any possibility of Russian expansion from their Colony Ross outpost. It was very successful and quickly grew to over 1,000 inhabitants, and was then given full “mission” status in 1822.
Today, in addition to the Mission and its small museum, the site houses Saint Rafael Church, Saint Rafael School, Saint Rafael Preschool, the parish hall and rectory. It’s a vibrant community with sub-communities of Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Brazilian parishoners, and masses are offered in four languages throughout the week, utilizing both churches.
The mission is open for prayer and contemplation daily and is a wonderfully quiet place to do so. The museum and gift shop houses artifacts from the original native America people, the Miwok, to inhabit the area, as well as artifacts from the mission and gift items.
Where: 1104 5th Avenue, San Rafael (map)
Misison Museum & Gift Shop Hours: 11-4 Daily; closed Tuesdays