Several weeks ago I strolled Main Street in Ventura and visited Mission San Buenaventura.
“El Camino Real” (the Royal Road, now Hwy 1) winds up the CA coast. 21 CA Missions, in various states of repair/authenticity are linked by this road. The thought was, each Mission provided a safe stop after a day’s worth of travel.
The Missions spurred change and the civilization we know including livestock, agriculture, education, and (of course) the Christianity they were driven to propagate. On the flip side, the Spanish decimated entire populations of Native Americans in the name of faith.
Visiting the Missions, I examine a bevy of emotions including awe at the architecture to disgust in the motives and corruption. It’s a chapter of history. It helped to make CA what it is. Ugly chapters have lessons to teach.
Here is a website link to a map with all CA’s missions and links to each’s history/photos. It’s simple and informative.
Father Junipero Serra raised the cross of Mission San Buenaventura and celebrated mass on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, founding his ninth and final CA mission. A seven mile long irrigation canal from the Ventura river paired with an outstanding climate (I can vouch for that) allowed the Mission to prosper. Exotic crops such as sugar cane, bananas and coconuts were grown as well as the staples. The original church burned and a second was completed over 15 years. Now, that church and the courtyard remain. A school sits over the original cemetary. (Why was that allowed, I wonder?) Eventually, most of the mission’s land was sold off to settlers and it became a local parish. A 1957 restoration undid many “improvements.”
One enters through the gift shop. A small entrance fee later with pamphlet in hand one enters the small museum, packed with artifacts, maps, etc. Then, through a low door you step into a lush, peaceful, quiet courtyard containing a fountain of colorful tile, an altar, benches and the door into the chapel.
Entering the chapel:
One very unusual light fixture:
The bell tower. I read bells were “borrowed” from the Santa Barbara Mission and never returned.
Though hard work (for some) I wonder if San Buenaventura was a little piece of paradise, reminescent of the Mediterranean home they left behind. I’ve many more to see!