Facts About Mission Santa Barbara

One of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks, Mission Santa Barbara, is full of historical importance and cultural richness. We highly recommend you check out the site and tour around the grounds. Before you head over there, we’ve compiled some information about the mission for you to read.

Here are a few facts about Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara was founded on December 4, 1786 by Padre Fermin Lasuen. From it’s construction, the mission has been operated by the Franciscan order and continues to this very day. It was named after martyr Saint Barbara, who was allegedly beheaded by her father for following the Christian faith. In 1803, the mission peaked in its population at 1,792. Another peak year for Santa Barbara was in 1821, when it had 13,732 animals living on its land.

The mission has been rebuilt and restored twice due to the earthquakes that hit the area in 1812 and 1925. Restoration projects made sure to keep the integrity of the original design in mind and restored the mission to look as similar to the first construction. Thankfully, one of the sculptures was not destroyed during either earthquake. That being the moorish fountain located in front of the monastery wing, a popular attraction among tourists.

Another interesting tidbit about this historical landmark is that in 1818, many were concerned of an impending attack. Two ships from Argentina that were under French control approached the coast and threatened to attack the adolescent town. A group of 150 Native Americans converts were given weapons and trained to fight. The soldiers confronted French privateer Hipolita Bouchard, who uneventfully sailed away without ever attacking the mission.

Music runs deep within the roots of Mission Santa Barbara. To this day, the mission has the oldest tradition of choral singing among the California missions which can be heard weekly. Not only that, but its archives contain some of the richest colonial Franciscan music manuscripts. The collections are heavily guarded and while we implore you to ask about them, they may be difficult to get your hands on.

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