Soledad Mission

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    Soledad Mission

    Soledad Mission
    ••• Soledad Mission. Kristina D.C. Hoeppner/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Soledad Mission was the thirteenth one built in California, founded October 9, 1791 by Father Fermin Lasuen. It gets the name Nuestra Senora de la Soledad from the Solitude of Most Holy Mary, Our Lady.

    If you're here because you want to visit Soledad Mission, you may want to read up on its history first. That's on the next page. You can also continue through this guide to take a look at some pictures or just get the location which is below.

    If you're looking for background material for a California Fourth Grade report, use this page and the mission history on the next page. If you're building a model for your project, continue to check out the layout and floor plan and take a look at the pictures

    Interesting Facts about Soledad Mission

    • Governor Arrillaga died at Mission Soledad
    • Mission Soledad was built so priests could break their journey between San Antonio de Padua and Carmel
    • Mission Soledad had more than 30 priests in its 44-year history

    Soledad Mission Timeline

    • 1791 -...MORE Father Lasuen founds Soledad Mission
    • 1805 - 688 neophytes
    • 1814 - Governor Arrillaga dies
    • 1818 - Father Ibanez dies
    • 1832 - Floods destroy chapel
    • 1834 - Secularized
    • 1954 - Reconstruction begins

    Where Is Soledad Mission Located?

    Soledad Mission
    36641 Fort Romie Road
    Soledad, CA
    Mission Website and current hours

    Mission Soledad is located a mile west of US Hwy 101 near the town of Soledad. 

    Mass is held at Soledad Mission on the first Sunday of every month (except in June when it's held on the last Sunday) and it is not open to casual visitors during that time.

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    History of Mission Soledad: 1791 to Present Day

    Exterior of Mission Soledad
    ••• Exterior of Mission Soledad. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Soledad Mission was founded on October 9, 1791 by Father Fermin Lasuen, naming it Nuestra Senora de Soledad, dedicated to "the Solitude of Most Holy Mary, Our Lady." The name was taken from the remote location, and because of an expression the native Esselen Indians used that sounded like "soledad," the Spanish word for solitude.

    It was an unlikely spot for a mission, in a hot, windswept, treeless valley. The Soledad Mission location was chosen because it provided a break on the 100-mile journey between San Antonio de Padua to the south and Carmel to the north.

    Early Years of the Soledad Mission

    Mission Soledad floundered during its first years. The weather was bad - hot, dry and windy in summer and freezing cold on winter nights. No one wanted to stay very long. Not only was it hard for the Fathers, but very few Indians lived in the area.

    To make matters worse, the first two priests at Mission Soledad, Father Marino Rubi and Father Bartolome Gili, were young men who had...MORE caused constant trouble during their priestly training. They did nothing to help Soledad Mission grow, and from the time they were assigned to there, they complained (mostly about a shortage of altar wine) and asked to be transferred. Father Rubi left in 1793 and Father Gili left a year later.

    Father Florencio Ibanez arrived at Soledad Mission in 1803 and was the first to give it consistent leadership. He stayed at Mission Soledad for fifteen years, installing an irrigation system, and raising crops and cattle. Despite an epidemic in 1802 that killed many Indians, by 1805 there were 727 people, 688 of them neophytes, at Soledad Mission. By 1810, the population dwindled to 598.

    In 1814, California's first Spanish Governor, visited Soledad Mission to see his old friend Father Ibanez. While he was there, the Governor Arrillaga died, and was buried in the old church. Father Ibanez died four years later, and was buried next to his friend.

    Soledad Mission in the 1820s -1830s

    Father Vicente Sarria, who was once Father-Presidente of the California Missions, came to take care of Soledad Mission after Father Ibanez died. An 1827 inventory included 5,400 sheep, 4,000 cattle and 800 horses.

    Floods in 1824, 1828 and 1832 destroyed the church and chapel, and they were not rebuilt. Father Sarria stayed on as Soledad Mission became poorer and poorer, sharing his meager food with the Indians until he died of starvation. He was buried at Mission San Antonio.

    Father Sarria was the last priest to serve Soledad Mission. During its history, the Fathers performed 2,000 baptisms and 700 marriages.

    Secularization at Soledad Mission

    When Soledad Mission was secularized in 1834, it had a 5,000-vine vineyard, three ranchos, 3,246 cattle, 2,400 sheep and 32 horses. Its assets were $556, but it owned $677 in debts. The Mission Soledad roof was sold to pay its debt to the Mexican government. By 1839, only 78 neophytes, 45 cattle, 586 sheep and 25 horses remained.

    In 1845, Governor Pio Pico sold the site to Feliciano Soberanes for $800. Without a roof, the building's walls had crumbled from the weather by the time the United States government returned the property to the Catholic Church.

    Soledad Mission in the 20th Century

    Reconstruction of Soledad Mission began in 1954. So far, only the chapel and a few rooms next to it have been rebuilt.

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    Soledad Mission Layout, Floor Plan, Buildings and Grounds

    Layout of Mission Soledad
    ••• Layout of Mission Soledad. ©Betsy Malloy 2002

    The original buildings at Soledad Mission were brush shelters. Building materials were scarce, and it was six years before the first permanent structure, an adobe chapel with a straw roof, was built.

    The mission's location was prone to flooding, and the nearby Salinas and Arroyo Seco Rivers, small in summer, often overflowed in the rainy winter season. An 1824 flood destroyed the church, and it was never rebuilt. In 1828 another flood washed away the chapel that was built to replace the church. In 1832, the chapel was completely destroyed by a flood.

    When the mission roof was sold in 1835 to pay its debts, the remaining buildings began to crumble, and they sat unused for the next 90 years. The current adobe buildings were reconstructed from the dust of the original adobe bricks, starting in 1954.

    The bell hanging outside the chapel door today is the original one sent from Mexico in 1794.

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    Pictures of Soledad Mission

    Cattle Brand of Soledad Mission
    ••• Cattle Brand of Soledad Mission. ©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The Soledad Mission picture above shows its cattle brand. It was drawn from samples on display at Mission San Francisco Solano and Mission San Antonio.

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    Soledad Mission Interior Picture

    Interior of Mission Soledad
    ••• Interior of Mission Soledad. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Soledad Mission Altar Picture

    Altar at Soledad Mission
    ••• Altar at Soledad Mission. Ed Bierman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
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    Soledad Mission Ceiling Painting Picture

    Ceiling Painting at Mission Soledad
    ••• Ceiling Painting at Mission Soledad. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Soledad Mission Wall Painting Picture

    Decorative Wall Painting at Mission Soledad
    ••• Decorative Wall Painting at Mission Soledad. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Soledad Mission Bell Picture

    Bell at Soledad Mission
    ••• Bell at Soledad Mission. MLHRadio/Flickr/(CC BY-NC 2.0
    This bell is the original one sent from Mexico in 1794.
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    Soledad Mission Overview Picture

    Overview of Mission Soledad
    ••• Overview of Mission Soledad. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
    This picture shows all that is left of Soledad Mission, the mission church and the rooms adjoining it.
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    Indian Workshops at Soledad Mission

    Ruins of Indian Workshops at Soledad Mission
    ••• Ruins of Indian Workshops at Soledad Mission. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    These walls are all that remains of the Indian workshops at Soledad Mission.

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    Jose Arrillaga Memorial

    Jose Arrillaga Memorial at Soledad Mission
    ••• Jose Arrillaga Memorial at Soledad Mission. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    In 1814, Jose Arrillaga, California's first Spanish Governor, visited Soledad Mission to see his old friend Father Ibanez. While he was there, the Governor Arrillaga died, and he was buried in the old church.

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    Burial Place of Father Ibanez

    Burial Place of Father Ibanez at Soledad Mission
    ••• Burial Place of Father Ibanez at Soledad Mission. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.