Santa Cruz Mission from Side

Santa Cruz Key Facts

Santa Cruz was founded on August 28, 1791, and is named for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christianity. This mission is located on a bluff in the city of Santa Cruz, near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.

General Information

Santa Cruz

Founded:
August 28, 1791
Current Status:
Parish Chapel of the parish of the Holy Cross of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. The mission chapel is a reduced scale replica of the original church and is a popular site for weddings.
Summary:
Santa Cruz was founded on August 28, 1791, and is named for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christianity. This mission is located on a bluff in the city of Santa Cruz, near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.

Key Facts About This Mission

Named For

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christianity

Founding Father President

Fr. Lasuen Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuén

Founding Missionaries

Frs. Isídro Salazar and Balamero López

Indians Joining Mission

Members of the Awaswas tribelet of the Costanoan family were the predominant early neophytes, joined later by other Costanoans and Yokuts.

Mission Site

On a bluff in the city of Santa Cruz, near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River and the native site of Uypi on the Monterey Bay. Moved to this location in 1793.

Layout

Traditional quadrangle with a large garden and orchard near the mission.

Water Source

San Lorenzo River and springs on the mission property.

Population

Close proximity to the pueblo of Branciforte (present day Santa Cruz) and a series of natural disasters limited the success of this mission. The peak population recorded was only 523, achieved in 1796.

Livestock

Santa Cruz Cattle Brand Santa Cruz ranked in the bottom 25% of the California Missions in the size of its livestock herd (9,236 in 1832).

Agricultural Output

Approximately 75,000 bushels of grain and produce were produced over the active life of the mission.

Mission Church

Trousset Painting The San Cruz Mission church was destroyed in earthquakes. A painting by Trousset was based on details provided by the locals after a most devastating earthquake in 1857.

In 1858 a "modern" wooden church was erected where the mission church once stood. The ornate Gothic-style church seen today subsequently replaced it in 1887.

Mission Chapel The current mission chapel is a well-executed smaller one-third scale replica of the 1795 mission church. It was erected in 1931.

Mission Bells

The original mission church, whose bell tower collapsed in 1840, contained nine or ten bells, none of which have survived. The mission replica has a 20th century bell hanging in tower

Mission Art

The interior of the church has only a few original artifacts, most of which were lost or destroyed in earthquakes.

Significant Event(s)

The residents of the nearby pueblo of Branciforte looted the mission in 1818 after the mission's inhabitants fled under threat of pirate attack by Hippolyte de Bouchard. The pueblo was founded with former prison convicts from Guadalajara.

Secularized

1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1859, by President James Buchanan

Interesting Facts

The first autopsy in California was performed on Fr. Andrés Quintana in 1812, to determine the cause of death (poisoning was suspected).
 

The remains of Gladys S. Doyle, who funded the construction of the mission's one-third scale church replica, are buried in the church baptistery.

Neophyte housing diagram The only original mission neophyte housing in California is at the nearby State Historic Park.

Additional Information

Ostrow, K. (2004). Mission Santa Cruz. (PowerKids Press, Missions of California Series) 
Weber, F.J. (1984). Holy Cross Mission: a Documentary History of Santa Cruz.
Van Coenen Torchiana, H.A. (1918). Story of Mission Santa Cruz

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