Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mission Santa Cruz
Mision la Exaltación de la Santa Cruz (Mission Santa Cruz) was consecrated on September 25, 1791 by Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, the twelfth in the California mission chain. It was named for the Holy Cross, the name that the explorer Gaspar de Portola had given to the area, and is located in the city of Santa Cruz, California.
As with most California missions, Mission Santa Cruz served as a clearinghouse for the often brutal ecclesiastical conversion of natives. In response, Mission Santa Cruz was, as far as can be discerned from available sources, the first California mission to come under armed attack by local natives. On the night of December 14, 1793, Mission Santa Cruz was attacked and partially burned by members of the local Quiroste tribe who inhabited the mountains to the east of Point Año Nuevo. The attack was purportedly motivated by the forced relocation of native Indians to the Mission. In 1812, Father Andres Quintana was assassinated and had his testicles smashed by natives angry over his use of a metal-tipped whip in the punishment of mission laborers.
In 1797, the Spanish governor of Monterey founded the secular Pueblo (town) of Branciforte across the San Lorenzo River from Mission Santa Cruz. The frequent gambling and smuggling which occurred in and through Branciforte brought what the padres of Mission Santa Cruz considered an unwelcome element to the area. In 1812 the Mission received advance warning of an attack by the "pirate" Hippolyte de Bouchard and was evacuated. The citizens of Branciforte were asked to protect the mission's valuables; instead, they looted the Mission.
A series of earthquakes in 1857 destroyed the Mission. The lands was put up for sale, but no buyer was found. In 1858 a wood-frame church was built on the old Mission property. In 1889 the current Gothic style Holy Cross Church was built on the original adobe site. There is nothing left of the original Mission except for a row of buildings which at one time housed local Yokut and Ohlone Indian families. In 1931 Gladys Sullivan Doyle proposed to construct a replica of the mission; she used her own funds to build a half-size replica of the original church.
The Mission Santa Cruz is a museum open to visitors. The Holy Cross Church on the site of the original church is an active and busy parish. The chapel has weekday masses and is available for weddings and funerals. "Plaza Park," which is situated at the center of the former Mission complex, was at one time the site of 32 buildings.
- National Register of Historic Places #NPS-76000530 - Mission Hill Area Historic District
- California Historic Landmark #32
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