Street Address
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95055
Mailing Address
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95055
phone: 408-554-4023
web: www.scu.edu/missionchurch/history/

Description

We welcome visitors to our historic and beautiful campus. Our campus slideshow can give you a great preview of many campus sites, including the Mission Santa Clara, the Mission Gardens, the Center for Performing Arts, and the de Saisset Museum.

History

The final "remodeling" of the Mission Church occurred on Oct. 24, 1926, when faulty wiring set off a fire in the church’s north bell tower. A priest saying morning Mass gave the alarm, and students and faculty tried valiantly to save the historic old building. The church, sadly, was totally destroyed, although students did manage to rescue many statues and paintings, other liturgical objects, and one of the mission bells, which rang the De Profundis for the dead that night, as it had for a hundred years.

Encouraged by a flood of sympathy and donations, the University administration began reconstruction of the destroyed church almost immediately. Rather than a duplication of the church that had burned, the restoration attempted to recapture the appearance of the 1825 church before its many remodelings. The church was again made wider than the original because it had to serve as the University chapel. The façade, however, returned to its original one-tower design, although it was eventually embellished with carved wooden statues of the saints instead of painted decorations. The decorations of the interior also followed the original lines, except that the patterns on the walls were painted in pastel pink and blue instead of the original brilliant red and yellow. Careful copies were made of the destroyed Mexican reredos and Dávila’s painted ceiling. The restoration, one of the earliest undertaken, is imperfect, but it imparts much more of the flavor of the original than did the building it replaced. The sixth Mission Church was dedicated May 13, 1928. From then until now it has served as the University chapel, used by the University community for Masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals. The Mission Church is open to the public and welcomes visitors.

The first sight that greets visitors to Santa Clara University is the façade of the restored church of Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Santa Clara University, the oldest college in California, is also the only college in the state to be the successor of a Spanish mission. The history of both institutions is intimately bound up with the history of the state. The University, founded in 1851, was born amid the tumultuous growth of the Gold Rush era. The mission, dating back to 1777, was the first outpost of Spanish civilization in the Santa Clara Valley.