The Missions: Number 19

The 19th of the California missions, Santa Ines Virgen y Martir was founded September 17, 1804, and named for Saint Agnes of Assisi, a 13 year old Roman girl who was martyred in A.D. 304. It is one of few inland missions, built on a site chosen as a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purisima, and also as a buffer against a hostile Indian group, the Tulares, who lived in the regions to the northeast. At one time, Mission Santa Ines enjoyed the second highest production of wheat in the entire chain, as well as having a large and relatively stable livestock herd. An earthquake destroyed most of the original church in December 1812 but the complex wasn’t abandoned, and a new church was dedicated five years later, constructed with thick walls and great pine beams.  Santa Ines is also known for its extensive collection of church vestments, which date from the 17th century. Another attraction is an 1820s gristmill (presently in ruins) about half a mile from the church, and the mission museum displays the original bells of 1804, 1808 and 1818. Slightly more than 100 years after Mission Santa Ines began operations, a group of Danish educators established the town of Solvang at the edges of the mission’s lands. This mission was secularized in 1834, returned to the Catholic Church in 1862, and restored to its original design in the late 1940s.

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