September 4 marked the 232nd anniversary of the founding of “the town of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels” — or “El Pueblo de Nuestra Se√±ora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porci√∫ncula.” Historically, that number pales in comparison with famous centers of the world: Athens existed in 1400 BC; Paris, 52 BC; and Rome, 753 BC. Even Mexico City was already more than 450 years old by September 1781 when a straggling group of 44 men, women and children finally camped by the river named Rio de Los Angeles de Porci√∫ncula in the area the Indians called “Yabit.”It was the end of an arduous journey. The ethnically mixed group of settlers started their weary trip sometime in February when Mexican Captain Fernando de Rivera y Moncada recruited them from Sonora and Sinaloa. Originally some 60 members of the intrepid group started the expedition, but a smallpox epidemic on the way reduced the number. The 11 families of 44 persons traveled some 1,000 miles and probably arrived at San Gabriel Mission — founded just 10 years before by Fray Junípero Serra — sometime in August.Governor Felipe de Neve greeted them at the Mission. Although no records confirm that he also traveled the nine miles with the group to inaugurate the new pueblo, he may have been there as he had planned the settlement in an effort to reaffirm Spain’s claim of the territory. Governor Neve headed “Las Californias” from 1775 to 1782 and established the first pueblo of San Jose in 1777. At this second pueblo, he planned the size of the lots and planting fields for the settlers (or pobladores) who received 10 pesos a month, several farm animals and a livable hovel, eight feet high. As remarkable this event was for California, a much more significant event — at least in the eyes of the rest of 18th century America and Europe — happened a month later 3,000 miles east. General George Washington defeated General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown and the Revolutionary War ended Oct. 19, 1781 after six years of battles and severe hardships.Also in this period, the Catholic Church in Europe faced a critical phase during the reign of Pope Pius VI, serving what became the longest papal term of any of his predecessors (1775-99). He rejected the French mandate to control the church after their revolution and ultimately was taken prisoner and removed to France. Seriously ill, the pope died Aug. 29, 1799. Swiss guards returned his body to the Vatican, yet the historic relic of his heart remains behind the altar at the Cathedrale Saint-Apollinaire in Valence, France.The new pueblo of Los Angeles survived — many of its residents no doubt highly unaware of the historic events to the east — and in 1786 the settlers were officially given possession of the Pueblo they built. By then Los Angeles had 28 families — and California had nine missions founded by Father Serra, stretching from San Diego to San Francisco. In 1814, Los Angeles’ first parish that was not a California mission — Our Lady Queen of Angels, known today by many as “La Placita” — was founded on Olvera Street.When California became a state in 1850, the city was still small, 28 square miles and 1,610 people. Today the City of Angels is the second most populated in the U.S. with the greatest number of ethnic cultures, and is the largest city of the world named for Mary, Queen of Angels.This is the third in a series of articles on Los Angeles’ Catholic history. Previous articles have addressed the history of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Aug. 23) and the St. Joseph Church fire (Aug. 30). {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0906/lahistory/{/gallery}