Mission San Buenaventura

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Spanish missions in California

Deakin SBV circa 1899.jpg
Mission San Buenaventura, circa 1899.[1]
Location: Ventura, California
Coordinates: 34° 16′ 52″ N, 119° 17′ 53″ W
Name as Founded: La Misión de San Buenaventura [2]
English Translation: The Mission of Saint Bonaventure
Patron Saint: Saint Bonaventure [3]
Nickname(s): "Mission by the Sea" [4]
Founding Date: March 31, 1782 [5]
Founded By: Father Presidente Junípero Serra [6]
Founding Order: Ninth [3]
Military District: Second [7]
Native Tribe(s):
Spanish Name(s):
Primordial Place Name(s): Mitsqanaqa'n [8]
Baptisms: 3,875 [9]
Marriages: 1,097 [9]
Burials: b3,150 [9]
Year of Neophyte Population Peak: 1816 [10][11]
Neophyte Population: 688 [10][11]
Neophyte Population in 1832: 1,328 [10][11]
Secularized: 1836 [3]
Returned to the Church: 1862 [3]
Caretaker: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Current Use: Parish Church / Museum
National Historic Landmark: #NPS–75000496
Date added to the NRHP: 1975
California Historical Landmark: #310
Web Site: http://www.sanbuenaventuramission.org

Mission San Buenaventura is a former religious outpost established by Spanish colonists on the west coast of North America in the present-day State of California. Founded on March 31, 1782 by Roman Catholics of the Franciscan Order, the settlement was ninth in the twenty-one mission Alta California chain. Named after a 13th-century scholastic theologian and philosopher, San Buenaventura has the distinction of being the last of the missions to be founded by Father Serra. Designated as a California Historical Landmark, today the chapel serves as a parish church within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

A Spanish mission bearing the name San Buenaventura de Cochiti was founded in 1628 in Cochiti, New Mexico.


Mission Period (1769 – 1833)

Plans originally called for Mission San Buenaventura to be established in 1770, but the founding was delayed due to the low availability of the military escorts needed to establish the settlement. The first chapel burned down in 1793; it took the neophytes 16 years to build the new church, which still stands today.

A system of aqueducts was built by Chumash Indians between 1805–1815 to meet the needs of the Mission population and consisted of both ditches and elevated stone masonry. The watercourse ran from a point on the Ventura River about ½ mile north of the remaining ruins and carried the water to holding tanks behind the San Buenaventura Mission, a total of about 7 miles.

Rancho Period (1834 – 1849)

California Statehood (1850 – 1900)

President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation on May 23, 1862 that restored ownership of the Mission proper to the Roman Catholic Church.[12] The entire water distribution system was destroyed by floods and abandoned in 1862. In 1893, Father Cyprian Rubio "modernized" the interior of the church, painting over the original artwork; when he finished, almost nothing remained of the old church.

20th century and beyond (1901 – present)

New priests restored the church to its original style in 1957. Today all that remains of the original Mission is the church and its garden.

Other designations

  • National Register of Historic Places #NPS–75000497 — Mission San Buenaventura Aqueduct
  • California Historical Landmark #113 — Site of "Junípero Serra's Cross" (the first cross on the hill known as La Loma de la Cruz, or the "Hill of the Cross") can be found in Grant Park, and was erected by Junípero Serra upon the Mission's founding
  • California Historical Landmark #114 — Old Mission Reservoir, part of the water system for Mission San Buenaventura (the settling tank or receiving reservoir; the site can be found in Eastwood Park)
  • California Historical Landmark #114–1 — Mission San Buenaventura Aqueduct (at Canada Larga Road) consists of two surviving sections of viaduct about 100 feet long, made of cobblestones and mortar.

Mission industries

Animals raised at San Buenaventura included cattle, horses, sheep, donkeys, and goats. The cattle provided food, oil, and hides. In the year of 1818, 35,274 cattle wandered over the Mission lands. A little time after January 7, 1831, the animal population decreased to a low of 4,000 cattle, 3,000 sheep, 300 horses, and 60 mules. In July of 1839, Inspector-General E.P. Hartnell found 2,208 cattle, 1,670 sheep, 799 horses, 35 mules, and 65 goats. The soil around Mission San Buenaventura was very good so the mission could grow many crops. San Buenaventura grew apples, grapes, bananas, pears, plums, pomegranates, figs, oranges, coconuts, beans, grain, corn, and barley. In the year of 1818, 12,483 bushels of grain were harvested. Shortly after January 7, 1831, harvests had been reduced to 1,750 bushels of wheat, 2,000 bushels of barley, 500 bushels of corn, and 400 bushels of beans. In July of 1839, Inspector-General William E.P. Hartnell found 322 fanegas of wheat, 182 fanegas of corn and 35 fanegas of peas.

Mission bells

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells. Mission San Buenaventura had five bells. The bells were borrowed from Mission Santa Barbara because there were no bells at the time. The bells were never returned. The bell facing north is labeled S. San Francisco 1781. The bell facing east has the inscription: San Pedro Alcantra 1781. A small swinging bell hangs in the southern arch with the lettering: Ave Maria S. Joseph. The only bell used daily at San Buenaventura is large and crown topped with a Cross on its side. Inscribed on the bell is Ave Maria Pruysyma D Sapoyan Ano D 1825, which means "Hail Mary Most Pure. Mary of Zapopan Year of 1825." This bell was originally cast for the church of Zapopan, Jalisco but was later sent to Mission San Buenaventura. Another bell, which was once the gift of the Spanish Viceroy, is inscribed Marquez de Croix Mexico November 12 1770. It is currently owned by Senora Isabel del Valle Cram. There are also two wooden bells in the museum that measure about two feet. These were the only wooden bells in the California missions.

See also

Notes and references

  1. (PD) Painting: Edwin Deakin
  2. Leffingwell, p. 55
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Krell, p. 177
  4. Weber
  5. Yenne, p. 88
  6. Ruscin, p. 196
  7. Forbes, p. 202
  8. Ruscin, p. 195
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Krell, p. 315: Information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Engelhardt 1920, pp. 300-301
  12. Leffingwell, p. 56