Mission Santa Clara de Asis is a Spanish mission in Santa Clara, California. It is located on the campus of Santa Clara University. The mission was originally founded in 1777 by a Roman Catholic priest. It is one of the first missions in California and the first in the state to be named after a woman. The name is derived from the Italian Saint Clare of Assisi, who was a companion of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is the eighth of the twenty-one missions of Alta California.
The history of the mission is fascinating. It was founded by Father Junipero Serra, who was the President of the California Missions Chain. He broke tradition by choosing a patron saint other than the founder of the church. He selected St. Claire of Assisi as the patron.
The original site was in close proximity to the Guadalupe River, making it unsuitable for mission operations. After a flood, the mission was moved to higher ground. A church was built on this location, and it served as the main chapel for the mission.
The building was destroyed by a fire in 1926. The mission was rebuilt in neocolonial style, and the bell tower was replaced. The interior was widened to increase the seating capacity. The bell tower was once made of wood, but it has since been replaced with a steel-reinforced concrete structure.
Today, the mission is an active church. It is closed to the public during special events, but it is open to visitors on a regular basis. It is located on a campus that has been used for numerous schools, and parking is free. The mission is open for self-guided tours. Visit the bookstore to browse a small collection of historical mission materials.
The campus has a beautiful historical setting. Visitors can also tour the de Saisset Museum, which is well worth a trip. There is a large statue of Father Serra in the courtyard.
The chapel is a larger, more elaborate structure than most other missions. The ceiling is an exact replica of the original fire ceiling. It features beautiful paintings inside. There is also a large organ. There are no traditional pews. This is a great place for a wedding.
The current church was built in 1928. Its exterior is modeled after the original building, and it contains statues from earlier eras. The chapel has a great view of the cross from the front. The music is played by a vocal group that enhances the experience. There is an old cemetery to the west of the mission.
You can learn more about the mission by visiting the museum and the bookstore on the campus. There are many interesting artifacts to explore. A self-guided tour pamphlet is available in the north-east corner of the mission church.
If you would like to visit the original mission site, you can go to nearby Lincoln Street. There is a memorial to Father Serra and his followers on this location. The cemetery is quite picturesque, and you can see the old cross in the middle.