The 1812 Santa Barbara Earthquake: Padre Señan's Report

[The already] severe conditions have been rendered even more severe by the horrible temblors and earthquakes that have been experienced in this province and which will constitute a special epoch in it because of the great resulting damages. The violence of these occurrences have been extraordinary.

As a result of the ruinous events we have to build anew the churches of Missions San Fernando and Santa Barbara. ... Mission San Gabriel suffered somewhat. At Missions Santa Ines [Santa Ynez, CA] and San Buenaventura [Ventura, CA] quite some time will be required to repair the damage which I consider annoying to describe in detail. Concerning the last named mission I will say only that the tower partially fell and that the wall of the sanctuary was cracked from top to bottom. ...

At Mission Purisima [Lompoc, CA] the bells rang out without the aid of a bell ringer and in a few minutes the mission was reduced to rubble and ruin presenting the picture of a destroyed Jerusalem. With the permission of the government the mission is to be rebuilt at a place about a league and a fourth distant called Los Berros which offers notable and known advantages.

-Padre José Señan, O.F.M., The Biennial Report from Mission San Buenaventura, 1811-1812, translated by Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., Old Mission, Santa Barbara, California, 1974.

The church at Mission Santa Barbara was rebuilt with thicker walls and was completed in 1820. This church was damaged in the 1925 earthquake and repaired. The San Fernando Mission was repaired, but destroyed in the February 9, 1971 San Fernando earthquake. It has also been rebuilt. As requested, Mission La Purisima was moved from its original site in Lompoc, California to a site a few miles away. This mission is now a California historical monument and is preserved roughly as it appeared around 1820. The earthquake damages at Mission San Gabriel could not have been too much of a surprise to the Spanish--the full name of that mission is Mission San Gabriel de los Temblores, or Saint Gabriel's Mission of the Earthquakes.

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