The Famous Missions of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 58 pages of information about The Famous Missions of California.

But this was not the only good work done in the north while Junipero was busy elsewhere; for on the 12th of January, 1777, the Mission of Santa Clara was established in the wonderfully fertile and beautiful valley which is now known by that name.  The customary rites were performed by Father Tomas de la Peña, a rude chapel erected, and the work of constructing the necessary buildings of the settlement immediately begun[5].  It should be noted in passing that before the end of the year the town of San Jose — or, to give it its full Spanish title, El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe — was founded near by.  This has historic interest as the first purely civil settlement in California.  The fine Alameda from the mission to the pueblo was afterwards made and laid out under the fathers’ supervision.

[4] This is now colloquially known as the Mission Dolores.  Its proper title is, however, Mission of San Francisco de Assis.  It originally stood on the Laguna de los Dolores (now filled up) ; and hence its popular name.

[5] The site originally chosen lay too low, and from the outset danger of inundation was foreseen.  A flood occurred in 1779, and in 1784 the mission was removed to higher ground.  The present buildings date from 1825-26.


Though Junipero’s subordinates had thus done without him in these important developments at San Francisco and Santa Clara, he still resolved to go north, both to visit the new foundations and to inspect for himself the marvellous country of which he had heard much, but which he had not yet seen.  As usual, he was long detained by urgent affairs, and it was not till autumn that he succeeded in breaking away.  He made a short stay at Santa Clara, and then pushed on to San Francisco, which he reached in time to say mass on St. Francis’ day.  After a ten days’ rest, he crossed to the presidio and feasted his eyes on the glorious vision of the Golden Gate — a sight which once seen is never to be forgotten.  “Thanks be to God!” he cried, in rapture (these, says Palou, were the words most frequently on his lips); “now our Father St. Francis, with the Holy Cross of the procession of missions, has reached the ultimate end of this continent of California.  To go further ships will be required!” Yet his joy was tempered with the thought that the eight missions already founded were very far apart, and that much labour would be necessary to fill up the gaps.

It was thus with the feeling that, while something had been done, far more was left to do, that the padre returned to his own special charge at San Carlos.  Various circumstances in combination had caused the postponement, year after year, of that third mission, which, according to original intentions, was to have followed immediately upon the establishments at San Diego and Monterey.  Three new settlements were now projected on the Santa Barbara Channel, and the first of these was to be the mission of San Buenaventura. 

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The Famous Missions of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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