Santa Cruz Mission Today

What Does The Mission Look Like Today?

You know by now that the first Mission at Santa Cruz was swept away by a flood and the second Mission was knocked down by an earthquake.  Where did today’s Mission come from and what does it look like?

Well, for almost 75 years, there was no Mission at Santa Cruz, just a church for the members of the Parish.  The old walls lay crumbled on the ground and the beautiful bells had been sent to San Francisco.  Then a wonderful lady had an idea:  Why not rebuild the Mission?

The lady’s name was Gladys Sullivan Doyle and she’s buried at the new Mission.  She’d lived in Santa Cruz for a very long time and she had an uncle who was a United States Senator. 

Mrs. Doyle loved the idea of the new Mission so much that she gave the church all of the money that they needed to rebuild it.  And so, in 1931, a copy of the old Mission was built on the same hill in Santa Cruz and it still stands there today.

It’s only about half the size of the old Mission, but it’s very beautiful.  The people who rebuilt it spent quite a lot of time looking at old books and pictures, so that they could make it as much like the old Mission as possible.

You should come to visit, so that you can see it gleaming in the sunshine yourself.  When you walk through the front door, it’s very peaceful and quiet.  The sun streams through the windows and it  makes you feel calm and happy.  

The benches in the front of the picture are where the people sit during church and they’re called, “pews.”  The big sort of a doorway is called an “arch,” and if you look up at the very top of the picture, you can see the redwood beams that they used to make the roof of the church.

You can see that the two saints are standing on the sides of a sort of a table.  That’s called the “altar,” and that’s where the priests lead the people in prayer.  If you look at the altar, you can see something that looks like a box standing on it. 

That’s a very special thing to  Catholics and it’s called a “tabernacle.”  Catholics believe that God is present in the tabernacle during church services and so they always try to make the tabernacle as beautiful as possible. 

This tabernacle was  actually in the old Mission and you can see how carefully they made it. The sacristy is where the priests get dressed when they’re going to hold Mass for the people.  You remember that they wear very special clothes called  “vestments,” when they do that. 

Now, suppose that you were standing in front of the altar and you turned around and looked back at the door to the Mission.

What would you see at the back of the church?  Well, on one side of the door, you’d see a little room and on the other side, you’d see some stairs.  The stairs lead up to a place called a “loft,” where the choir stands and sings during church services.

The little room is called a “baptisery,” and that’s a very important place to Catholics, too.  When Catholic families have a new baby, they bring her to the church and the priest blesses her.

That’s called “baptism,” and that’s what they do in this room. The baptisery may be a little room, but it’s big enough to hold up the whole bell tower of the new Mission.  Isn’t that a beautiful tower?  Do you see the round part of the bell tower with the cross on it?  That’s called a “dome,” and it’s made with tiles.

What else is at our new Mission?  You can see that there’s a garden there and a beautiful garden it is, too.  And, of course, there’s the gift shop, that we call the Mision Galeria.  The Galeria is a very special place, though, so it has it’s very own page.

What Are The Robes That Are Hanging At The Mission?

The robes were very special kinds of clothes that the priests wore in church. They’re called, “vestments.” Different vestments were worn at  different times of the year and at different kinds of church services. You must remember that the priests were praying to God, so they wanted to wear the very best and most beautiful of clothes.

There is quite a collection of vestments at the Mision Galeria and Betty Pedrazzi can tell you all about them, when you come to visit.  What do we know about these beautiful robes?

First of all, we know that they’re very old. They were made late in the 18th century or early in the 19th century.  We also know that they weren’t made around Santa Cruz.

No, these wonderful clothes have traveled a lot farther that most of us ever will. The cloth that they’re made from is called, “silk,” and it probably came from China. Silk is made out of the cocoon of a caterpillar. Did you know that?

The people of the Orient were the first to discover that the little nests that the caterpillars make could be spun into silk. Silk is very soft and shiny, and it’s still one of the best kinds of cloth that you can get.

So, we think that the silk for the vestments was made in  China out of their beautiful silk threads. 

Do you know what other kinds of threads they used?  Silver and gold!  They would beat pieces of gold and silver with hammers, until the pieces were so thin that they were like threads. 

Then you could use them for sewing, just like the thread that you have at home. Click on the picture and you can see some of the gold threads. I’ll bet you thought Rapunsel was the only one who could spin gold, but the Chinese were doing it a long time ago.

So, the beautiful robes sailed all the way across the Pacific Ocean in Spanish Galleons and arrived in Mexico. We think that they may have been used in Missions in Lower Mexico for awhile.

How did they get to Santa Cruz?  Well, one Mission would give them to another Mission as a gift. Then that Mission might give them to yet another Mission as a gift. And, so, the vestments traveled all of that distance to  Santa Cruz, all the way from China.

Imagine that!  You can see that it was worth it, though. Just look at the beauty in that robe. Do you see all of the gold and silver and silk, woven together? Yes, they’re very beautiful and they’re a part of the wonderful history of Mission Santa Cruz. Still, there’s even more to tell about the history of the Mission.

Would you like to know what happened to the Original Mission?

Pray for All