LetsGoSeeIt.com - Your Guide to Southern California and Beyond

Mission Buenaventura

Mission Buenaventura

The following information is taken from a brochure available at the Mission.
The founding of San Buenaventura Mission was foreshadowed well over two centuries ago on the Spanish Isle of Mallorca, when a devout Franciscan priest, who was a brilliant scholar and professor of theology, earnestly prayed that he might be permitted to forsake his comfortable circumstances to take up the Lord's work among the aborigines in the New World. The hoped-for answer to his prayers came on Palm Sunday, March 30, 1749.

Thirty-three years and one day later the zealous priest, Fray Junipero Serra - who had been subjected to painful sufferings and several brushes with death during his missionary ministry - raised the Cross at "la playa del canal de Santa Barbara" (the beach of the Santa Barbara Channel) on Easter Morning, March 31, 1782. Assisted by Padre Pedro Benito Cambon, he celebrated a High Mass, preached on the Resurrection, and dedicated a Mission to San Buenaventura (Saint Bonaventure). It had been planned as the third in the chain of twenty-one Missions founded by Padre Serra but was destined to be the ninth and last founded during his lifetime, and one of six he personally dedicated.

Under the direction of Padre Cambon, whom Padre Serra left in charge of the new Mission, a seven-mile-long aqueduct was constructed to bring Ventura River water to the Mission. With plentiful water the Mission was able to maintain flourishing orchards and gardens, which were described by English navigator George Vancouver as the finest he had seen.

The Mission's first church building, according to Vancouver, was destroyed by fire. The construction of a second church was abandoned because "the door gave way". In 1792 work was in progress on the present church and the small utility buildings which (with the church) formed a quadrangle enclosing a plaza. Although half finished in 1795 the church was not completed until 1809. Dedication was held September 9 of that year and the first liturgical services took place September 10. At about that time the San Miguel Chapel (present corner of Thompson Boulevard and Palm Street) and the Santa Gertrudis Chapel (Highway 33 near Foster Park) were completed.

A series of earthquakes and an accompanying tidal wave in 1812 forced the padres and Indian neophytes to seek temporary shelter a few miles inland. Six years later the padres and their flock had to remove sacred objects from the church and flee into the hills to elude a pirate who was pillaging the Missions but fortunately was headed off after a "bargaining session" at El Refugio in Santa Barbara.

The Mexican government in 1834 issued a secularization decree divesting the padres of administrative control over the Mission. In 1845 San Buenaventura Mission was rented to Don Jose Arnaz and Narciso Botello and was later illegally sold to Arnaz. After California became a state in the Union, Bishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany petitioned the United States Government to return that part of the Mission holdings comprising the church, clergy residence, cemetery, orchard, and vineyard to the Catholic Church. The request was granted in the form of a Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on May 23, 1862.

Because of Severe earthquake damage in 1857 the Mission's tile roof was replaced by a shingle roof. Some years later, in an effort to "modernize" the church, the windows were lengthened, the beamed ceiling and tile floor were covered, and the remnants of the quadrangle were razed. The west sacristy was removed to provide room for a school, which was not actually built until 1921. During the pastorate of Father Patrick Grogan the roof of the church was once again tiled, the convent and present rectory were built, and a new fountain was placed in the garden.

In major restoration under the supervision of Father Aubrey J. O'Reilly in 1956-1957, the windows were reconstructed to their original size, and the ceiling and floor were uncovered. A long-time parishioner commissioned the casting of a bell with an automatic angelus device and donated it to the Mission, it hangs in the bell tower above the four ancient hand-operating bells.

The entire roof of the church was removed and replaced in 1976. In December of that year the church was solemnly consecrated by Timothy Cardinal Manning. In 1982 the Mission marked its bicentennial anniversary.

Exterior of the Church and Gardens

Exterior of the Church and Gardens Exterior of the Church and Gardens Exterior of the Church and Gardens

Exterior of the Church and Gardens Exterior of the Church and Gardens Exterior of the Church and Gardens

Exterior of the Church and Gardens Exterior of the Church and Gardens

Interior of the Church

Interior of the Church Interior of the Church Interior of the Church

Interior of the Church Interior of the Church Interior of the Church

Interior of the Church Interior of the Church

Historical Artifacts

Historical Artifacts Historical Artifacts Historical Artifacts

Mission Vestments

Mission Vestments Mission Vestments

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, the dress used by the clergy for liturgical functions was the same as the ordinary clothing worn by the laity.

Following the barbarian invasions, when new fashions became popular, clerics retained the older styles. With the growing difference in costume, liturgical vesture acquired a symbolic value. In the Middle Ages, vestments gradually became more ornate and colorful with the introduction of brocades.

Of the several styles in vogue throughout the world, those in New Spain generally fell into that category known as the "Roman" or "fiddleback" design.

The vestments used in California's Provincial era were the amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole and chasuble; and at certain other services, the cope, humeral veil and surplice.

There were five predominate colors used in the sacred vestments: white, red, green, violet and black. Rose was allowed on Laetare and Gaudete Sundays and gold could be substituted for white, red and green. Throughout the Hispanic realm, blue was used for feasts of the Blessed Mother.

The twenty-three sets of vestments here displayed, date from the earliest days of San Buenaventura's existence as the ninth and last of Fray Junipero Serra's missionary outposts along El Camino Real.

Satin, damask, brocades and other materials were utilized in making these vestments. Several of the sets were fashioned from flowered-silk imported from China on the Manila galleons. There is evidence that some of these vestments were used earlier at one or another of the missions in Peninsular California.

For the most part, they were brought to Alta California by sea transports, which arrived twice a year at Santa Barbara from San Blas, Mexico.

Mission Displays

Wooden bell
Wooden Bell
Mission model
Mission model
Music book
Music book

Chumash Indian Basketry

Chumash Indian Basketry Chumash Indian Basketry

Early chroniclers in this area described the natives as being tall, well-formed, healthy, alert and friendly. They were excellent craftsmen, producing varied articles of wood, stone, bone and shell. Especially impressive was the tomol, a unique sea-going plank canoe in which the Chumash men fished, travelled the coastline and traded with other villagers, living on the Channel Islands.

Chumash women were especially skilled in the manufacture of baskets, the main household utensil. Uses were many: gathering and storing foodstuffs, cooking (by dropping hot rocks in water-filled baskets) toasting, sieving, winnowing, gaming, as hats, canoe bailers and containers for every need, for they had no pottery.

Light, sturdy and of the finest workmanship, Chumash baskets were sent as gifts by explorers and missionaries back to Mexico, Peru, Spain, France and England, yet fewer than 200 are known to exist today. Most of these are coiled baskets such as these (in the upper case) from the estate of Juan Camarillo. Twining, an earlier technique in Western America, was used for water bottles (tightly twined and asphalted inside), mats of tule, and sieves (open-twined for fish and other wet objects).

Baskets allowed a community to follow the seed harvest and gather acorns, chia, piñon nuts, cherry, cat-tail, and other plant products. These could then be processed and stored in the graneries of the permanent village, thus ensuring a steady food supply.
Other Chumash baskets and artifacts
are on display at the Ventura County
Historical Museum, 100 E. Main St.

Mission San Buenaventura

Mission San Buenaventura is located at 211 East Main Street, in Ventura. See map.

Items of Interest...

Related Links