Continuing my profile of beautiful Santa Barbara Churches and Chapels, I, of course, must bring attention to the beautiful Mission Santa Barbara, the Queen of the Missions, which, since its initial foundation in 1786, has been staffed by the Order of Friars Minor. Today it is still an active parish in Santa Barbara. It is also one of most conspicuous land marks around, considered by many to be the heart of the city. Much of the structure was damanged when an earthquake hit Santa Barbara in 1925.
Front of the Mission immediately after earthquake of 1925.
Front of the Mission today
View of the Pacific Ocean from the Mission steps.
Imagine this sight toward the end of the 18th century (minus the houses, of course)!
Original altar on display near the baptistry.
The Santa Barbara Mission is the only mission that still has its entire original altar completely intact and on display.
Notice the statue of St. Barbara above the tabernacle.
Inside, in spite of the earthquake damage, things look almost as they have for the last 100 years!
View of the rest of the nave and choir loft.
Within the Mission complex is the Sacred Garden, originally used for catechizing the California natives.
If you ever visit the Mission, you'll notice that this mission, like many, has an elaborate aqeduct system that runs through the Mission complex. This system was originally fed by water from a dam built in 1807 at nearby foothill waterfalls. These falls, along with the original mouth of the aqueduct, can still be visited a couple of miles up the road at the Santa Barbara botanic gardens.
For the curious historian in you:
One of my favorite stories of the Mission is the story of Juana Maria. If, as a child, you've ever read the book, Island of the Blue Dolphins, you'll know the story of the young Indian girl found living alone on San Nicolas Island, off the coast of California, after 18 years. The story is that she was brought to Mission Santa Barbara where she remained and later died. She is supposedly buried somewhere in the Mission cemetery, and she is commemorated by this plaque located on the wall within the cemetery:
The plaque reads:
Indian Woman Abandoned on
San Nicolas Island Eighteen Years
Found And Brought To
Capt. George Nidever
SANTA BARBARA CHAPTER
DAUGHTERS OF THE