San Buenaventura

San Buenaventura Key Facts

San Buenaventura was founded on March 31, 1782. Mission San Buenaventura became a parish church after it was secularized in 1836. The high altar and its reredos date to 1818.  Mission Buenaventura has a well-landscaped garden, informative displays and a small, inviting museum. 

General Information

San Buenaventura

Founded:
March 31, 1782
Current Status:
Active Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Summary:
San Buenaventura was founded on March 31, 1782. Mission San Buenaventura became a parish church after it was secularized in 1836. The high altar and its reredos date to 1818.  Mission Buenaventura has a well-landscaped garden, informative displays and a small, inviting museum. 

Key Facts About This Mission

Named For

Historic Painting of Saint Buenaventura Saint Bonaventure, a 13th-century Franciscan cardinal and renowned philosopher. 

Founding Father President

Fr. Junipero Fr. Junipero Serra 

Founding Missionaries

Frs. Vincente de Santa María and Francisco Dumetz

Indians Joining Mission

Chumash Indian Village San Buenaventura was located in the land of the Chumash people. After the establishment of the mission, the neophytes were known as Ventureños.

Mission Site

The mission was located near the sizeable Indian village of Mitsquanaqa'n with about 500 inhabitants. San Buenaventura is 70 miles north of Los Angeles in the city of Ventura, which developed around the mission. 

Layout

San Buenaventura Quadrangle  Traditional quadrangle, which was still standing as late as 1875. 

Water Source

A seven-mile-long earth and masonry zanja, or aqueduct, brought water from the Ventura River.

Population

The peak years for this mission were 1802-1821. The highest recorded population was 1,328 in 1816. During the mission era, there were 1,107 marriages performed at San Buenaventura. 

Livestock

San Buenaventura Cattle BrandIn 1816 (the peak year) the mission had over 41,000 animals including 23,400 cattle, 12,144 sheep, and 4,493 horses (one of the largest stables of horses in the mission chain).  

Agricultural Output

Over the years 1784 - 1834 the mission reported harvesting 191,291 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils, garbanzos (chickpeas) and habas (broad beans). 

Mission Church

San Buenaventura Drawing The first church was destroyed by fire in 1793. The second church was dedicated in 1809 and reconstructed in 1816 after an earthquake. The walls are six foot thick near the base. 

The church had to be restored after it was "modernized" in 1893. The restoration was completed in 1957.

Mission Bells

A three-tiered campanario contains five bells originally borrowed from Mission Santa Bárbara. The two oldest bells date from 1781. The bell on the upper level is the newest. It was cast in 1956 in Paris.

Mission Art

The high altar and its reredos originated in Mexico and were installed when the church was dedicated in 1809. The Shrine of the Crucifixion on the left side of the church contains a four-hundred-year-old bulto. 

Significant Events

Although the mission was evacuated for a month in 1818 because of the threat of a pirate attack by the Argentine privateer Hippolyte Bouchard, the mission was nonetheless spared.

The Hide Trade In the mission era whaling ships anchored near the mission to replenish their food lockers and trade for cured cattle hides (called Yankee Dollars). 

Secularized

1836. This was one of the last missions to become secularized.

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1862, in a proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln.

 

Interesting Facts

San Buenaventura was intended to be the 3rd mission, but its founding was postponed for thirteen years, and so it became the 9th mission established.

Captain George Vancouver met Fr. Dumetz at the mission in 1793 and named Point Dume, between Point Mugu and Malibu, after the friar.

Additional Information
  • Señán, J. (1962) The Letters of José Señán, O.F.M.: Mission San Buenaventura 1796-1823. Ventura County Historical Society.
  • Weber, F. J. (1977) A History of San Buenaventura Mission (Msgr. Webber served as Pastor of San Buenaventura from 1975 to 1981)
  • Engelhardt, Z. (1930) San Buenaventura, The Mission by the Sea (The definitive early history of the mission)

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