The Santa Cruz
Mission was founded on September 25, 1791. The mission
construction was completed in 1795. Unfortunately, the
mission had many problems.
The pueblo of Branciforte
was set up near the mission. It was created to
criminals exiled from Mexico. The town became a center
for thieves and smugglers. This had a corrupting
influence on the natives and created a serious conflict
between the mission and the town.
In 1805, one of the padres from the mission was
murdered. A few years later the pirate Bouchard
threatened the mission, forcing the padres into the hills
for safety. While the padres were gone, men from the town
stole the valuables from the mission. This started the
mission on the road to failure.
An earthquake damaged the mission in 1825. Shortly
after the repairs were complete, a flood in 1830 caused
several buildings to collapse. An earthquake in 1857
finally destroyed the mission, leaving only the soldiers
In 1858 a simple wooden church was built for use as a
local parish. In 1931 a small chapel was built based on
sketches of the original church.