Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Barbara Mission Field Trip

As a tie into both our Chumash studies, as well as the studies of the saints, we went on a field trip to the Santa Barbara Mission when Gramy was in town. This gorgeous mission was the 10th of 21 missions founded along the coastline of California, extending as far down as San Diego and as far north as San Francisco. Five of these 21 missions were established by the Franciscans among the Chumash peoples, including Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of St. Barbara on December 4th, 1786 so we learned about St. Barbara (another post on that).

You can read details about the founding of the mission here. It is incredibly gorgeous and hence I am just going to comment very little and allow the photographs to inspire :)

Here we are with Gramy (in black), who met her very best friend of 60 years at the mission for a reunion! We brought our lunch and enjoyed the singing of the birds and ringing of mission bells.

This is a wash basin that the Chumash used to scrub linens. The ocean is straight ahead.

The girls posing in front of Father Junipero Serra's statue. He is the founder of the first 9 missions and passed away two years before Santa Barbara Mission was completed.

Upon entering the museum, you are greeted with vigil candles. We lit two in honor of our recently deceased loved ones.

Waiting for Gramy and MaryAnn, we had fun taking pictures in the cut-outs ;)

We paid our nominal fee and headed into the mission for the self guided tour.

The girls recognized a familiar face! Babci bought them the Little Saint Francis books and puzzles years ago. They were tickled to see his image with the bee on the mission grounds!

The Santa Barbara Mission holds a very special place in my heart. Years ago, before the girls were born, my mom's friend (MaryAnn) helped organize several spiritual retreats for women here. I attended two of them and was blown away by the love, the prayer, and the bonding support of the women. The second year I attended, I was pregnant with the twins and after the opening saging ceremony, the women laid hands on my round belly, and blessed my babies. We read the amazing book "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant and it remains one of my favorite books ever.

Returning to these gardens, where we women stayed (in the attached dormitory), among the friars and spirit, just filled me with such light and love.

This beautiful old tree sits in the center of the large cemetery grounds. Hundreds are buried here, though there only a select number of grave markers and crypts.

St. Francis is seen everywhere...

I love this picture of Elena admiring the crucifixion...

Inside the beautiful church...

You can see the ocean from the open doors at the entrance to the church, though the picture whited it out. It's incredibly serene and breathtaking...

To the left (below) is Mary Magdalen weeping outside of the tomb of Christ as he appears to her with wounded hands and feet. To the right (below) is St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.

Some building materials used in the mission construction.

Day of the Dead...

Recreation of the mission kitchen from the 1700's...

Chumash basketry and tools...

Original sculptures (read below)

Relief rubbings...

Signs of Chumash everywhere...

The Chumash name comes from one of their master traits - that of making shell money, seen here. It was then strung on a necklace and used to purchase necessities. Right behind the Santa Barbara Mission is the Natural History Museum, which houses more Chumash treasures and history. Highly recommended for those studying these beautiful peoples.

In California history for Grade 4, the children learn about the missions. I am hoping to visit all 21 with the girls during our homeschooling and would love to build a model of a mission, as well. Lots of fun to look forward to!

Speaking of looking forward - tomorrow, I will be hosting a wonderful giveaway, so be sure to check in! Can't wait!


  1. What a wonderful post. As kids, my mother "dragged" us to almost every mission in the state of California. Boy did we complain! But despite my eye-rolling, I remember the beautiful churches and old cemeteries. Now I live close to several missions and have had the privilege of performing music in these amazing places. I also bring my children to visit, and when the complaining starts, I smile and hope that one day they too will look back with fondness for these true California treasures.

  2. Wow! This is just gorgeous, I love the big tree...but then again I am Forrest.

  3. I have only been to the SB Mission once in my life, but it was an incredible experience. Thank you for sharing all of these gorgeous images.

  4. Wow! It looks like you were in Italy! I went to visit Assisi when I lived there and I am amazed to see how much the place you visited looks like it! What an amazing field trip!

  5. What a nice time you had! We have never been, but I hope to go some day!

  6. I am fascinated by the ongoing picture you've shared about teaching this material. I can't wait to bring Native Cultures to Toucie in a couple of years...and I'm completely inspired to bring it all to life as you have done for your lucky girls. You are amazing!