How old is the Mission at Santa Cruz?
Two Padres started the Mission at Santa Cruz. (In the Catholic Church, the priests are called “Fathers,” and Padre is the Spanish word for Father.) The two Padres were named Alonzo Salazar and Baldomero Lopez, and they kept diaries of what happened, so we know quite a bit about them.
And what did they do when they arrived at the place we now call Santa Cruz?
Well, they put up a tent beside a hill, the very hill where the Mission Santa Cruz now stands. They wanted their mission to be close to the river, so that they could have water to drink and for watering their crops.
If it sounds funny to you, to think of two priests putting up a tent, you have to remember what it was like back then. There were no buildings and no streets like there are today. The closest neighbors they had were many miles away in Santa Clara and Monterey.
They must have felt very lonely, and perhaps a little afraid, camping beside that beautiful hill. Of course, they had brought supplies with them, because there weren’t any grocery stores where they could buy food. The Mission at Santa Clara gave them cows and horses and oxen. The Mission at Carmel gave them seven mules. The Mission at San Francisco gave them sixty sheep and ten rams and two bushels of barley, which is a kind of a grain.
You can imagine what a racket they probably made, coming into that peaceful valley with all of the cows mooing and the sheep bleating. They must have been very busy those first few days building pens and clearing away trees to make pastures.
Even with all of those animals, the Padres almost ran out of food. They had to buy beans and corn from the soldiers, and they paid them 42 dollars for it.
Do you know what else they bought from the soldiers? Chocolate. One of them must have had a sweet tooth.
The Padres worked very hard, and the first Mission at Santa Cruz was dedicated on September 25, 1791. If you want to do a little math, you’ll see that the Mission at Santa Cruz will be 209 years old in the year 2,000.