Twelfth of the California Missions
August 28, 1791
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christianity
Founding Father President:
Fr. Fermiin Francisco de Lasuén
Frs. Isídro Salazar and Balamero López
On a bluff in the city of Santa Cruz, near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River and the native site of Uypi on the Monterey Bay. Moved to this location in 1793.
Traditional quadrangle with a large garden and orchard near the mission.
San Lorenzo River and springs on the mission property.
Close proximity to the pueblo of Branciforte (present day Santa Cruz) and a series of natural disasters limited the success of this mission. The peak population recorded was only 523, achieved in 1796.
Santa Cruz ranked in the bottom 25% of the California Missions in the size of its livestock herd (9,236 in 1832).
Approximatlely 75,000 bushels of grain and produce were produced over the active life of the mission.
The current mission chapel is a well-executed smaller one-third scale replica of the 1795 mission church. It was erected in 1931.
The original mission church, whose bell tower collapsed in 1840, contained nine or ten bells, none of which have survived. The mission replica has a 20th century bell hanging in tower.
The interior of the church has only a few original artifacts, most of which were lost or destroyed in earthquakes. There is a 1797 oil painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe hanging on the side wall of the church, and in the garden may be seen the original hand-carved baptismal font once located in the sanctuary.
A portion of the original nephyte housing area of 1822 has been restored and may be seen in the adjacent Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.
The mission was looted in 1818 by the residents of the nearby pueblo of Branciforte after the mission's inhabitants fled under threat of pirate attack by Hypolite de Bouchard. The pueblo was founded with former prison convicts from Guadalajara.
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
1859, by President James Buchanan
Parish Chapel of the parish of the Holy Cross of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. The mission chapel is a popular site for weddings.
Indians Joining This Mission:
Members of the Awaswas tribelet of the Costanoan family were the predominant early neophytes, joined later by other Costanoans and Yokuts.
The first autopsy in California was performed on Fr. Andres Quintana in 1812, to determine the cause of death (poisoning was suspected).
In 1858 a "modern" wooden church was erected where the mission church once stood. It was subsequently replaced in 1887 by the ornate Gothic-style church seen today
The model for the exterior of the mission chapel is a painting by Trousset drawn after the 1857 earthquake, based on details provided by the locals.
The remains of Gladys S. Doyle, who funded the construction of the mission's one-third scale church replica, are buried in the church bapistry.