Established on the banks of the Guadalupe River in 1777, the eighth California mission was founded as an additional outpost in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay, but was moved in 1781 to its present site on higher ground. Padre JunÝpero Serra officiated at the laying of the cornerstone for an impressive adobe church that was completed in 1784. Surrounded by fertile lands, the mission prospered until an earthquake destroyed the complex in 1812. A new church, completed in 1814, served first as a mission, then as a parish chapel, until it was destroyed by fire in 1926. The current building resembles the original 1784 adobe.Offset by a campanile, the church exterior features statues of saints and a roof covered in clay tiles gleaned from the ruins of earlier mission structures. Today encased in redwood, the wooden cross standing in front of the church dates to the 1777 founding of the mission. The painted ceiling of the Victorian-style interior replicates the original design of Mexican artist AugustÝn Davila.The simple St. Francis Chapel (behind the main sanctuary) contains an original wall, ceiling and floor. To the left of the church lies a landscaped quadrangle where a number of plants (olive trees, roses and wisteria) survive from the mission days.
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