Mariano Borja Painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe has a special place in the mission system. Because she appeared to natives in Mexico (9 and 12 December 1531; feast day 12 December) she was a model for the padres to hold up to the Indians. According to Msgr. Weber’s history the first church in all of California was dedicated to her in 1683 as demonstrated by words from Padre Eusebio Kino’s diary…

On Monday we began to build a small church and a little fort or Real de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, and from this day we began to sleep and live on the land. (April 5, 1683)

Fast forward now…

In 1841 a relative of Bishop Francisco Garcia Diego commissioned a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The painting was executed by Mariano Borja and taken with the Bishop from Mexico to California and housed in Mission Santa Ines.

Borja painting
Picture taken 3:20pm 15 Nov 2001

Late in 1875 Father John B. McNally, at Mission Santa Ines was assigned by Bishop Francis Mora to build churches in the Sisquoc and Guadalupe areas of the Santa Maria Valley. The churches he built were wood-frame structures designed to have the general form of the Santa Barbara Mission. One still stands as the San Ramon Chapel (Benjamin Foxen Memorial Chapel, California landmark 877) to the east of Sisquoc.

San Ramon Chapel
Picture taken 2:05pm 14 Nov 2001
Phone & electric lines removed.

The second, in the same form, was built in Guadalupe and stood until replaced in 1959 with the stucco structure now in place. After the original Guadalupe church was built the Borja painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe was moved from Mission Santa Ines to the church where it hung over the altar for over 80 years. The painting is now on display in a side niche of the present Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Picture taken 3:10pm 15 Nov 2001

Inside Church
Picture taken 3:15pm 15 Nov 2001

Side niche
Picture taken 3:20pm 15 Nov 2001

Fast forward again…

In 1946 Our Lady of Guadalupe was proclaimed “Patroness of all America.” In 1999 Pope John Paul II made 12 December a Feast Day in the Americas.

How to Get There

  • San Ramon Chapel. The chapel is located 13.7 miles to the east of Santa Maria at GPS coordinates 34°50’36″N 120°14’43″W. From U.S. 101 take Betteravia Road east. Betteravia turns into Foxen Canyon Road. Stay on the main road through Gary and Sisquoc (there are many side roads and you must make a hard left turn at Sisquoc). The 13.7 miles is measured from U.S. 101. You’ll see the chapel on a hill as you approach the mile mark. The chapel is open during the day and is still an active church with Sunday Mass celebrated at 10:15am. The burial ground next to the church has the graves of many early settlers in the Santa Maria Valley. [Side note: Foxen Canyon Road is a 23-mile back-country road that is part of the Santa Barbara County Wine Tour. There are many wineries along the full length of the road should you wise to make a day of the trip.]
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The church is located at 1164 Obispo Street in Guadalupe, west of Santa Maria at GPS coordinates 34°58’00″N 120°34’16”. From the center of Santa Maria take Main Street (Highway 166) west 7.9 miles to Guadalupe Street (Highway 1), turn north (right) and proceed through town to 11th street (1 mile). Turn east (right) three blocks to the church at Obispo Street on your left (go slow over the rail crossing!). The painting is in a niche on the right side of the church facing the altar. The church is active with a full schedule of services.