Californian Mission: Santa Clara de Asís (8)

My third Mission is Santa Clara de Asís,  founded on January 12 1777.  It is the eighth Californian Mission and located in the grounds of the University of Santa Clara. Whilst staying in the city of Santa Clara, some 40 miles south of San Francisco, I decided to investigate a few more Californian Missions, this one being the closest.

Named after Saint Claire of Assisi, a thirteenth century Italian nun, this mission was the first to be named after a female saint. It has been destroyed and rebuilt no fewer than six times and the current church is a modern interpretation of the fifth church which was built in 1825 and later destroyed by fire. Its layout is the traditional quadrangle.


Of the four Mission Bells in the tower, one is a gift from Carlos III of Spain and dates from 1798. Two more were destroyed in the 1926 fire and re-cast, and the fourth is a gift from Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1929. The Mission Bell marker outside the grounds is similar to the bells placed along El Camino Real to mark that historic route.

Mission Bell
The Mission Bell

In 1851, authority for Santa Clara was transferred to the Jesuits and the old mission became the nucleus of Santa Clara University. Unlike my first two missions this one is very neat and clean and well-maintained, perhaps because many of the former Mission buildings are in use by the university. The grounds are well landscaped with a formal rose garden which was once a cemetery for the early Mission. There are olive trees in the grounds and climbing roses and a wisteria above an arbour, dating from 1880.  A small portion of the original adobe wall has been preserved.

(click on an image to enlarge and for more information)

As such although it is a pretty space with a few lovely features, it does not have that secret, calm and meditative feel that the San Diego or Carmel Missions provide.

Adobe Lodge
Adobe Lodge

 (source of information is from plaques within the grounds)

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

15 thoughts on “Californian Mission: Santa Clara de Asís (8)”

  1. I got to see two of the missions when I was in California, Jude, and I really wish I could have seen all of them. At least I get to see them vicariously through you. Beautiful! 🙂

  2. Those missions keep on coming Jude…
    This one looks less calming than the others, but is still architecturally interesting, and I like the observatory too. Looking forward to the next ones.
    Does San Antonio de Valero Mission (The Alamo) feature at all? (I know, it’s in Texas, not California!)
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. Architecturally interesting, yes. Calm? Well it was very quiet and peaceful despite being a university, but it just didn’t have that sense of history that the less-than-perfect missions portray. And sorry, but I haven’t ventured into Texas. Yet. 🙂

  3. It’s true- it does feel completely different and less compelling, Jude. Maybe a degree of neglect/dilapidation helps breathe life into them 🙂

    1. You get more of a sense of history I think from the decaying mission buildings, this one was too perfect, but interesting none-the-less.

  4. Lovely as always Jude. You really do love your Missions! Again, not been to this one but remember Santa Clara very well… xx

    1. I’d love to do that! If only I could afford a house here and a bolt-hole there sigh… OH used to go over Jan/Feb each year for a conference, but hasn’t for the last two years. I really miss my sunshine break in our dreary, bleak winter.

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