Mission San Buenaventura
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Mission San Buenaventura (Saint Bonaventure, the minister general of the Fanciscans)A brief history
The Mission San Buenaventura is the 9th mission founded in California. It was founded on March 31, 1782 by Friar Junipero Serra. Named for Saint Bonaventure who was born near Viterbo, Italy, in 1221. At the age of thirty-six he was elected minister general of the Franciscans. In 1273, he was created Cardinal-bishop of Albano. He was one of the greatest scholars and theologians of the medieval period.
Originally planned to be the third mission, San Buenaventura was delayed by twelve years due to problems at other missions requiring the military that was required to defend a new mission. In March of 1782, eight soldiers and their families, pack animals loaded with church goods, furnishings and tools, cattle and even Governor Neve himself with his own personal guard of ten soldiers rode for the new mission location. The mission was located at a native town of five hundred people, named La Asuncion de Nuestra Senora by Father Crespi. On Easter Sunday morning, Father Serra officially founded the mission by performing Mass. This was the last mission Father Serra founded personally.
The building of the local chapel proceeded immediately. The natives helped with the building for payment but they resisted joining the life of the mission. Sometime in the next ten years the mission church burned and a new larger one of stone was begun. In 1809, the new church was dedicated, but three years later the violent earthquake of 1812 severely damaged the mission. The next year saw the repairs completed and a reinforcement of the church by the addition of an immense buttress.
In 1818, new arrived that the pirate Bouchard has been sighted. Father Jose Senan gathered up the valuables and buried some while hiding others in a nearby cave. Fortunately the pirate passed them by, but soon after they returned, the Mojave tribe came to trade. The soldiers objected and locked them up. In the morning a fight erupted with twelve deaths and the Mojaves from that day forward did what they could to thwart the work of the mission.
In 1845 secularization dispersed the mission lands and the church became a parish church as ordered by Garcia Diego, the first bishop of California. Eventually the church and some of the land were returned. In 1887 the railroad arrived and the small village grew rapidly. In 1893 the resident priest tore down the outer buildings and changed the church itself to modernize the facility. He covered up the original native decorations and removed the elaborate wooden pulpit. He missed the heavy side door done in a simple Moorish design. He also failed to get the two wooden bells carved out of two-foot blocks of wood. They were used during Holy Week when the usual metal bells are kept silent. Both bells are now in the mission museum that was created in 1929. In the garden between the church and the mission museum are to Norfolk Island pine trees, that are over 100 years old, supposedly planted by a sailing captain who hoped to grow a forest for use as masts.
Restoration in 1957 has returned the church to it to much of its original form.
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