The Tenth of the California Missions
December 4, 1786
Queen of the Missions
Saint Barbara, a legendary martyred church figure of the 3rd century.
Founding Father President:
Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuėn
Frs. Antonio Paterna and Cristóbal Oramas
In the city of Santa Barbara on a hill commanding a striking view of the sea.
Santa Barbara was laid out in the traditional quadrangle, with separate granaries, a weavery with patio, tannery, and neophyte housing forming additional courtyard-oriented squares. Many of the exisiting buildings at the rear of the mission complex, however, were created to meet the needs of the seminary, established in the 20th century. Most of the new construction follows the foundations of the old quadrangle.
Water was channeled from a dam constructed in Pedragoso Creek, high above the mission. A two-mile long stone aqueduct carried water to a storage reservoir, feeder reservoir and settling tank constructed in 1806 and attributed to Indian mason Miguel Blanco of Baja California. A second aqueduct carried drinking water to the mission, its fountains and lavanderia washing facilities.
The highest population recorded was 1,792, in 1803
Santa Barbara had a sizeable livestock herd that exceeded 10,000 head in the years 1802-1823. In the peak year of 1821 the mission had 13,732 animals including 3,500 cattle and 9,000 sheep.
Over the years 1787-1834 Santa Barbara reported harvasting 223,285 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils, garbanzos (chickpeas) and habas (broad beans). The mission had two vineyards and many fruit trees.
The church was completed in 1820 with one tower. The second tower was added in 1831, collapsed within two years, and was rebuilt in 1833. The Neoclassic facade was inspired by a mission archives copy of the Spanish edition of The Six Books of Architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. a Roman architect of 1st century B.C.
Six bells hang within the two church towers.
The mission church is filled with original and noteworthy paintings and statues, including a unique abalone-encrusted Chumash altar dated to the 1790s. The two largest religious paintings in all of the missions are at Santa Barbara. One painting, 168" high by 103" wide, depicts the "Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin." It is thought to have originated in the Mexico City studio of Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera (1695-1768) and was acquired by the mission in1798. "The Crucifixion" (168" by 126") is not attributed to a specific artist.
The beautiful Moorish fountain located in front of the monastery wing, to the left of the church, was sculpted by mason and carpenter José Antonio Ramírez in 1808.
Neophytes revolted at Santa Ines, Santa Bárbara and La Purisima in 1824. The event underscored how relations with the largely Chumash neophytes deteriorated after the Mexican takeover of California in 1821.
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
ctive Roman Catholic Church owned and operated by the Franciscans.
Prominent Missionary Leaders:
Fr. Narciso Durán, who was elected Father President of the missions in 1825 and again in 1830, made Santa Barbara the chain's headquarters from 1833 to 1846.
Indians Joining This Mission:
Santa Bárbara was the third mission established in the land of the Chumash people at the native site of Xana'yan. The neophytes were referred to as Barbareño (after the mission) and Canaleño.
Under Fr. Narciso Durán the mission became the major record depository for the mission chain, a role that continues to this day.
Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, the first Catholic Bishop of California, resided at this mission from 1842 to 1846.
Santa Barbara is the only mission continuously operated by the Franciscans since its founding.
An Apostolic College or missionary center for California functioned at the mission from 1856 to1885, a Junior Franciscan Seminary from 1886 to1901, and St. Anthony's Seminary from 1900 to 1987.
Juana Mariá, the Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island portrayed in Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins was buried in the mission cemetery in 1853.