Mission Santa Cruz

Mission Santa Cruz was established in 1791 and named for the "Celebration of the Holy Cross," the name that the explorer Gaspar de Portolàgave to the area when he camped on the banks of the San Lorenzo River on October 17, 1769, and erected a wooden cross. As with the other California missions, Mission Santa Cruz served as a site for ecclesiastical conversion of natives, first the Ohlone, the original inhabitants of the region, and later the Yokuts from the east. The settlement was the site of the first autopsy in Alta California. Today, Mission Santa Cruz functions as a museum open to visitors; the replica chapel, located near the original Mission site, has weekday masses and is available for weddings and funerals. The Holy Cross Church on the site of the original church is an active parish of the Catholic Diocese of Monterey. Plaza Park, at the center of the former Mission complex, was at one time the site of 32 buildings.

The Santa Cruz mission was originally consecrated by Father Fermí­n Lasuén on August 28, 1791, on the San Lorenzo river's flood plain. It was one of the smaller missions, in the fourth military district under protection of the Presidio of San Francisco. The mission was flooded as the San Lorenzo swelled with the rains that winter. Over the next two years, the padres set out to rebuild the mission on the hill overlooking the river. The night of December 14, 1793, Mission Santa Cruz was attacked and partially burned by members of the Quirosto tribe who inhabited the mountains to the east of Point Año Nuevo. The attack was purportedly motivated by the forced relocation of Indians to the Mission. On October 12, 1812, Father Andrés Quintana was beaten to death and his body disfigured by natives angry over his use of a metal-tipped whip in the punishment of Mission laborers. In 1797, the Spanish governor of Monterey founded the secular pueblo (town) of Branciforte, across the San Lorenzo River to the south of Mission Santa Cruz. The frequent gambling and smuggling which occurred in and through Branciforte brought what the padres of Mission Santa Cruz considered an unwelcome element to the area. In 1818, the Mission received advance warning of an attack by the Argentine corsair (simply a pirate, from the Spanish point-of-view) Hipólito Bouchard and was evacuated. The citizens of Branciforte were asked to protect the Mission's valuables; instead, they looted the Mission.

Decline and preservation
A series of earthquakes in 1857 destroyed the mission buildings. The lands were put up for sale, but no buyer was found. In 1858, a wood-frame church was built on the old Mission property. In 1889, the current Gothic style Holy Cross Church was built on the original adobe site. There is nothing left of the original Mission except for a row of buildings which at one time housed local Yokut and Ohlone Indian families, and a protected remnant of the mission wall standing behind the current Holy Cross Church. The parish address is 126 High Street. The road leading to the mission from the west is called Mission Street; now most of Mission Street is designated part of California State Route 1. In 1931, Gladys Sullivan Doyle proposed to construct a replica of the Mission; she used her own funds to build a half-size replica of the original church. The small chapel is mainly used for private services.l

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Some of the buildings are run by the state as the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. The Santa Cruz Mission was designated California Historical Landmark number 342 . The Mission Hill Area Historic District was added as a United States Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Santa Cruz County, California as site number 76000530 on May 17, 1976.

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