Eighth of the California Missions
January 12, 1777
Saint Claire of Assisi, a 13th century Italian nun, cofoundress with San Francis of the Order of Poor Clares or Clares.
Mission Santa Clara
Founding Father President:
Fr. Junípero Serra
Frs. José Murguía and Tomás de la Peña Saravia
Located on the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Santa Clara, on a site originally chosen by Jan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish Pathfinder. The site was originally founded as La Mision de Santa Clara de Thamien at the Costanoan village of Socoisuka on the Guadalupe River. The mission was destroyed and rebuilt on six successive occasions.
There was ample water from nearby streams and the Guadalupe River.
The highest mission population was 1,514, in 1795.
The mission had the second largest livestock herd among the northern missions, a total of 20,320 animals in 1832 (10,000 cattle, 9,500 sheep, 55 swine, 730 horses and 35 mules).
Mission Santa Clara harvested approximately 118,000 bushels of grain and produce between 1782 and 1832.
The current church is a tasteful modern interpretation of the mission's fifth church constructed in 1825. The 1825 church was completely destroyed in a devastating fire.
Four bells hang in the companario, one of them an original donated to the mission in 1798 by King Carlos IV of Spain, who donated a second bell in 1799. The 1799 bell was broken during the 1929 fire that destrobyed the Church. In 1929, King Alphonse XIII of Spain donated a replacement bell and this bell is still in use.
A tall cross, erected in 1777 and now in protective casing, stands across from the church entrance.
The well landscaped grounds of this mission, nestled in the middle of a large university, are quite appealing. A portion of the original adobe walls have been preserved.
In 1851, authority for Santa Clara was transferred to the Jesuits and the old mission became the nucleus of Santa Clara University
1836 (one of the last to be secularized).
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
An active Catholic Church of the Roman Catholic Dioces of San Jose that is the spiritual center of a modern Jesuit university.
Indians Joining This Mission:
The mission was founded in the land of the Costanoan or Ohlone people. The Indians who lived in the Santa Clara area spoke Tamyen, one of eight Costanoan dialects. The neophytes ultimately included such groups as the Bay Miwok, Tamyen and Yokuts.
A four-mile Alemeda (or four-mile long road lined with willow trees) connected the mission and the nearby pueblo of San Jose.
The bells of Santa Clara have rung faithfully each evening since 1798 by request of King Carlos IV.
Santa Clara was the first California mission to honor a female saint.
Site of the first college, and the oldest university in California, founded in 1851.