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Mission La Exaltación de la Santa Cruz



Location: Santa Cruz

Founded: August 28, 1791

Founder: Father Fermin Lasuen

Status: Active Catholic Church

Indian tribes native to surrounding area: Ohlone, Costanoan, Miwok, Yokuts

Mission Santa Cruz was built in a beautiful location, in the midst of rich agricultural land. By all measures, the mission should have been an outstanding success.

However, when a nearby settlement was established, it quickly attracted a number of failed artisans, petty criminals and unemployed ruffians. Constant friction between the settlement and the mission prevented the mission population from growing.

In 1818, the mission was raided and looted by ex-convicts from the nearby pueblo of Branciforte.

With the smallest population of any of the California missions, Santa Cruz was unable to expand its agricultural production.

Eventually, the settlement expanded into the modern California town of Santa Cruz, while the mission slowly declined.

Key Events

1791 - Mission founded.

1818 - Mission raided and looted.

1834 - Mission secularized.

1859 - Mission returned to the Catholic Church by President James Buchanan.

Visiting the Mission

Visitors to the mission can see and adobe neophyte residence, and an interpretive center. There is a relative modern brick church, built is 1889 on the site of the original church. Nearby there is a 1/3 scale replica of the original mission; the replica was built in 1932.


Mission Santa Cruz church: a 1/3 scale
reconstruction of the original.
Mission chapel interior. Photo by
Robert A. Estremo (Lordkinbote).
Mission Santa Cruz.
Photo by Drozdp.