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Mission Santa Clara de Asis


Mission Santa Clara de Asis

Mission Santa Clara de Asís
Mission Santa Clara de Asís
Location within Silicon Valley
Location 500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, California 95053

Mission Santa Clara de Asís is a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in the present-day city of Santa Clara, California. The mission, the eighth Spanish mission built in California, was founded on January 12, 1777 and named for Saint Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the order of the Poor Clares. It is the namesake of both the city and county of Santa Clara, as well as Santa Clara University, which was built around the mission. This is the first California Mission to be named in honor of a woman and the only one located on a university campus.

Although ruined and rebuilt six times, the settlement was never abandoned,[10] and today functions as both a parish church of the Diocese of San Jose and a university chapel for Santa Clara University.


The outpost was originally established as La Misión Santa Clara de Thamien (or Mission Santa Clara de Thamien) at the Indian village of So-co-is-u-ka (meaning "Laurelwood", located on the Guadalupe River) January 12, 1777. There they erected a cross and shelter for worship to bring Christianity to the Ohlone and Costanoan peoples. Floods, fires, and earthquakes damaged many of the early structures and forced relocation to higher ground. The second site is known as Mission Santa Clara de Asís. A subsequent site of the Mission dating from 1784 to 1819 is located several hundred yards west of the De La Cruz overpass of the Caltrain track; moreover, several Native American burial sites have been discovered near this subsequent site.[11] The current site, home to the first college in Alta California, dates back to 1828.[3]

Initially, there was tension between the people of the Mission and those in the nearby Pueblo de San Jose over disputed ownership rights of land and water. The tension was relieved when a road, the Alameda, was built by two hundred Indians to link the communities together. On Sundays, people from San Jose would come to the Mission for services, until the building of St. Joseph's Church in 1803. In that year, the mission of Santa Clara reported an Indian population of 1,271. In the same tabular report, its resident priest estimated that 5,000 cattle, 7,000 sheep, 2,200 horses and 30 mules were on mission lands, while about 3,000 fanegas of grain (some 220 pounds each of wheat, barley or corn) had been harvested.

In 1850, California became a state and priests of the Jesuit Order took over the Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Father John Nobili, S.J., was put in charge of the Mission. He began a college on the Mission site in 1851, which grew into Santa Clara University;[12] it is the only mission to become part of a university, and it is also the oldest university in California. Throughout the history of the Mission, the bells have rung faithfully every evening, a promise made to King Charles III of Spain when he sent the original bells to the Mission in 1777. He asked that the bells be rung each evening at 8:30 in memory of those who had died.

In 1861, a new wooden façade with two bell towers was attached over the old adobe front of the building. The interior was widened in 1885 to increase the seating capacity by removing the original adobe nave walls.[13][14] A fire in 1925 destroyed the structure, including the surrounding wall. The church's parochial functions were transferred to Saint Clare Parish west of the campus. A rebuilt and restored Mission Santa Clara was consecrated in 1929, when it assumed its primary modern function as chapel and centerpiece of the university campus. It is open to visitors every day; the Mission museum is located in the university's De Saisset Museum.

Other historic designations


See also


  • Giglio, Gary, C., et al. Environmental Impact Report for the General Plan Amendment, Rezoning and Development of a Portion of FMC Corporation's Coleman Avenue Facility, Earth Metrics Inc., September 1988, published by the City of Santa Clara, California.

External links

  • Early photographs, sketches of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, via Calisphere, California Digital Library
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