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Last Updated: Mar 4th, 2009 - 23:05:19

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad  

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
Feb 11, 2009, 18:29 PST

Father Fermin Lasuen, second Father-Presidente of the Alta California Mission Chain, founded the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad on October 9th, 1791. It was the 13th of California's 21 missions, and it was originally established as a stopping point for travelers between the Missions San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo and San Antonio de Padua.

The mission was named not by Father Lasuen, but rather by a passing Costanoan Indian. The man wandered through the valley where the mission sat muttering a word that sounded to visiting fathers like Soledad. In Spanish, soledad means solitude, and is also a designation for the Virgin Mary. Indeed the mission did seem to be a very lonely place, so Fathers Crespi and Portola named it Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, Our Lady of Solitude.

Historic American Buildings Survey From Freethy Collection Original: 1884 Re-photo: March 1940 CHURCH (view from southwest)

Because of the mission's isolated location, there were very few Indians at Mission Soledad. The weather in the area was bad, freezing the Indians and fathers with cold in the winter and burning them with heat in the summer. The harsh climate and the small Indian population caused construction on the mission buildings to be very slow. The adobe buildings that were built were prone to be washed away by flooding. Although a small chapel, housing units, and other structures were built, no original buildings remain today. There are reconstructions at the mission site, and visitors can still see the foundations of the first adobe walls.

The Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad grew very prosperous right after is founding. Indians helped with construction and crop production, and under the supervision of the padres, they constructed an aqueduct system from the nearby Salinas River. The Indians faced many difficulties at the mission though. A disease called the Plague, brought by the missionaries from Spain, killed many of the natives. Most of the rest left Soledad to seek safer lives.

Like most California missions, the Mission San Nuestra Senora de la Soledad supported itself and the Native inhabitants of the area by growing crops of wheat and corn. They also raised herds of horses and cattle, and cultivated grapes in a vineyard. Despite large fields designated to raising these herds of cattle and horses, the mission never really prospered.

In 1835, the last father at Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, Father Vicente Francisco de Sarria, died. One morning his loyal Indian followers found him collapsed at the foot of the altar in the small chapel and carried him to Mission San Antonio de Padua, where he died. After Father Sarris death, what was left of the mission fell into disrepair and was abandoned. It was sold for only $800, but the lonely mission was never reoccupied.

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