San Buenaventura the
Mission in the California Mission Chain Founded on 31 March
1782 Easter Sunday by Father Junípero Serra under
the Patronage of St. Bonaventure
Naming of Mission:
The mission was named for
Saint Bonaventure Sometimes called the Mission by the Sea due to
its location close to the ocean.
Mission San Buenaventura
is along the California Pacific coastline north of Malibu and south
of Santa Barbara
The San Buenaventure
Mission was founded on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1782 by Father
Junipero Serra as the ninth mission in the California Mission Chain.
It was the last mission which he founded during his lifetime. The
founding took place on the beach of the Santa Barbara Channel. In a
history this was called "la playa de la canal de Santa
Barbara." Father Serra was assisted by Father Pedro Benito
Cambon when he celebrated Mass on that holy day. It was planned for
this to have been the third mission in the chain, but there was some
delay in the founding due to disagreements with the then governor.
Father Serra finally went ahead with the building somewhat against
the new rules. By the time the governor came back, the mission was
running efficiently and smoothly putting aside any of the governor's
concerns. It did, however, delay the eventual building of the Santa
Barbara Mission which was the next mission in the chain to be built.
Father Serra left the
mission in the charge of Father Cambon. He led the mission in his
initial building and also in the seven mile aqueduct from the
Ventura River to bring good water to the mission. This irrigation
system helped the mission to become one of the most productive of
The mission had difficulty
completing and keeping its buildings intact. The first church was
ruined by a fire. The second church building effort ended when the
"door gave way." In 1792, the present church was begun
along with other surrounding buildings. Only half finished in 1795,
the church was finally finished in 1809. The building wasmade of
stone and masonry and was dedicated on 9 September 1809. The church
and the outbuildings formed the traditional quadrangle typical of
damaged the mission and in 1812, a large earthquake and tidal wave
inflicted great damage which took almost three years to repair. The
mission had to temporarily relocate during the repairs. Again,
disaster struck in 1818, but this time, it was not nature which did
the damage. The French pirare, Bouchard, was attacking in the area
so the padres took the sacred objects and their people to hid in the
hills for about a month. All was well once they returned.
In June, 1836, the
secularization of the missions began. San Buenaventura seemed to
fare better than most of the missions during this time. This was
probably due to the fact that the first administrator, Rafael
Gonzeles, was an honest and hard-working man. By 1845 the mission
and its lands had finally been broken up and sold. It wasn't until
1862 that the land and mission was returned to the church by
proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln.
Another large earthquake
in 1857 cause great damage to the tile roof so it was replaced by a
wood shingle rood. Later, the church was "modernized" when
the beams were covered and windows were lengthened.
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 a 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 belltower above the
four ancient hand-operated 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.
Contact the Mission:
San Buenaventura Mission
211 East Main Street Ventura, CA 93001-2622 Phone: (805)
One point of interest in
the Mission is found behind the Mission building itself. Three
Padres are buried there: Padre Vicente de Santa Maria, who died 16
July 1806; Padre Jose Senan, who died 25 August 1823; and Padre
Francisco Suner, who died 17 Janaury 1831.
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