Considered as being the “Head” and the “Mother” of all the missions in Baja California, the Mission of our Lady of Loreto was the starting point from where the Jesuit monks went out to evangelize the new American territory. This mission was founded in 1697 by Juan María de Salvatierra, who also introduced the first settlement of Spanish origin in the region.
During the XVIII and XIX centuries, the church underwent numerous renovations and currently maintains a sober Baroque style stone façade, with some pillars upon which rests a frieze that says: “Head and Mother of the Missions in Baja and Alta California”. Headlining the façade, on a pedestal, is our Lady of Loreto together with the date in which the mission was founded.
Inside, the building still retains a simple altarpiece together with some paintings featuring images referring to the Jesuit order. Among other relics, you will find a large number of objects used in Catholic rites, oil paintings, a Baroque Churrigueresque style main altarpiece and the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of Loreto.
If you are visiting the region, do not forget to take a tour of the different missions found in Baja California, such as the de Santa Rosalía de Mulegé Mission, located in the town bearing the same name. This beautiful stone building is considered “the jewel of the Baja California Missions” because of its stunning architecture and perfect condition which take us back in time to an era when the fruit of the pitaya was the most sought after food and the olive trees were just being planted by the missionaries. Due to its characteristic simplicity of changeless stone, this mission resembles a fortress; its façade is in stark contrast with the delicate flora of the region and is framed by the beauty of the mountain which seems to be falling upon it at any moment.
The San Francisco Javier de Viggé Biaundó mission is located 35 km (21 miles) to the south of the city of Loreto. It was founded by San Francisco María Píccolo and was the second mission built in California. Here, the characteristics sought by the evangelizing missionaries for building a settlement can be clearly seen, such as having a stream nearby and practicing farming.
Meanwhile, the Mission of San Ignacio de Kadakaamán is located on an oasis surrounded by vegetation which defeats the desert in the Cochimí region of Kadakaaman and emerged as the most elegant of all of the region’s missions and the most flourishing in the whole peninsula. Its construction was begun by the Jesuits and finished by the Dominicans. Thin stone pillars framing the door and some holy sculptures can be seen on the façade, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful missions in the region. Inside you will be able to admire the Baroque style main altarpiece, without columns, dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, with beautiful oil paintings and drawings of the apparition of the Virgin of Pilar.