Mission Santa Ines

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Mission Santa Ines (Saint Agnes, patron of chastity)

A brief history

The Mission Santa Ines is the 19th mission founded in California. It was founded on September 17th, 1804 by Friar Estevan Tapis. Named for Saint Agnes, a thirteen year old Roman girl who was executed in 304 A.D. She was buried in the cemetery named after here where a basilica was built in her honor.

According to legend, she was sent to a brothel to break her of her will to consecrate her virginity to Jesus and she remained unharmed there. She is consider the patron of chastity.

Built as the last of the southern California missions, it completed the chain between San Diego and San Francisco. Dedicated by Father-President Estevan Tapis in the Santa Ynez Valley, with 27 children baptized on that day.

Santa Ines became very famous for its herds of cattle and the rich crops that the land yielded. For eight years the building was uninterrupted and the church was completed within the first year. A convento building was added as a wing, and other structures were built to form the standard quadrangle.

But in 1812, the great earthquake destroyed most of the church and many of the buildings. In 1813rebuilding of the church was started and in 1817 it was dedicated. Father Francisco Javier de Uria is credited with its design, as well as for the first one.

Like many other missions Santa Ines had an elaborate water system, this one, designed by Father Uriabrought water from the mountain several miles away. Joseph Chapman, a former pirate who served Hyppolite Bouchard in his infamous days, assisted some of the construction. He ended his piracy at a young age and was employed as the handyman at Santa Ines. He eventually obtained respectability and married the daughter of the Ortega family.

On February 21, 1824 after a couple years of having to maintain the local military from the coffers of the mission, the tensions between the natives and soldiers were brought to a boil. On that Sunday morning, a guard at Santa Ines flogged a neophyte corporal from the Mission La Purisima. All of the natives at Santa Ines rebelled. In a fight that put bow and arrow versus musket, two natives were killed and much of the mission was burned. When the church itself started to burn the natives set aside the fight and hastened to put out the fires. The next day military reinforcements arrive from Santa Barbara and the natives fled to Mission La Purisima. There much fighting took place.

Between 1825 and 1832 order was restored and repairs were conducted. In 1836 Governor Chico, under secularization, granted the mission to Jose Covarrubias, who rented it for $580 a year. He moved his family into half the buildings and the padres retained the half with the church. The “father’s wall” which divided the property down the middle was a result of a dispute between the residents. During this time the natives gradually departed. In 1843, management of the mission was restored to the padres, but prosperity didn’t return. The first seminary, the College of our Lady of Refuge was established there in the same year. In 1846 Santa Ines was sold to Covarrubias and Carrillo for $7000. That same year the United States seized California and eventually some of the property was returned to the Church.

In 1904, Father Alexander Buckler, the new pastor of the mission began a twenty year restoration of the mission, with his niece, Mamie Goulet. When the old campanario collapsed in 1911 it was rebuilt of concrete to hold the missions four bells. In 1924, the Capuchin Franciscan Friars from Ireland continued their good works and efforts in this regard.

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