Mission San Buenaventura Church Interior

Below you should see a rotating panorama of the complete inside of the Mission Church. You should be able to click on the panorama to stop the rotation at any point and then drag the mouse left, right, up, or down to see any specific area. If you have a mouse wheel, it should be able to be used to zoom in and out. If you are at full screen, press the ESCape key to have the panorama return to this page.

The Church is an active church. You enter from the courtyard and find yourself in the back third of the Church. Strangely, one of the first things you see is a rather incongruous Wells Fargo safe. There is nothing posted that explains the safe being in that location so it remains something of a mystery.

Vantura Mission Church Wells Fargo Safe

Picture taken 2:39pm 30 Jan 2012

The panorama above shows the inside of the Church in total; we’re now going to take a look at various features in more detail.

The main altar is, of course, the main feature of the Church. The altar and its reredos originated in Mexico and date from 1809 when the stone Church was dedicated. Let’s take a look at the altar in detail…

Ventura Mission Church Main Altar

Picture taken 2:10pm 30 Jan 2012

The decorations at the top include decorative bowl carvings and a picture of the Holy Spirit in the center.

Ventura Mission Church Holy Spirit

Picture taken 2:13pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Left Decoration

Picture taken 2:15pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Right Decoration

Picture taken 2:14pm 30 Jan 2012

The statues include (left to right) Mary: The Immaculate Conception; Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor; and, Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus.

The Immaculate Conception: The feast of the Immaculate Conception has been celebrated in all parts of the Church since 1477 and dates from the earliests times. The Sistine Chapel was erected in honor of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Sixtus IV.

Ventura Mission Church Immaculate Conception

Picture taken 2:12pm 30 Jan 2012

Saint Bonaventure was born in Tuscany, North Italy, in 1221. He joined the Franciscan Order and became a professor at the University of Paris. He was appointed General of his Order and then Cardinal of the Church. He died in 1274. He is called the “Seraphic Doctor” because of his life and works. The statue of Saint Bonaventure was sent from the Philippines in 1808 and is believed to be over 400 years old.

Ventura Mission Church St Bonaventure

Picture taken 2:11pm 30 Jan 2012

Saint Joseph is our most powerful intercessor before God after the Blessed Virgin Mary. He faithfully cared for his family and no sacrifice was too great for him. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him patron of the universal Church in 1870.

Ventura Mission Church St Joseph

Picture taken 2:12pm 30 Jan 2012

The Tabernacle sits below the statue of Sain Bonaventure. It contains an image of Jesus, the Good Shepard, carrying a lamb.

Ventura Mission Church Tabernacle

Picture taken 2:14pm 30 Jan 2012

On the front of the altar itself you can see an image of the Lamb of God sitting atop a Mass book.

Ventura Mission Church Lamb of God

Picture taken 2:13pm 30 Jan 2012

Two additional altars are located to the left and right of the main altar and outside the sanctuary. The Shrine of the Crucifixion is on the left side (facing the main altar).

Ventura Mission Church Shrine of Crucifixion

Picture taken 2:28pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Crucifixion

Picture taken 2:29pm 30 Jan 2012

Shrine of the Crucifixion. The bulto (corpus) is four hundred years old and came to California from the Philippines in 1808. It was repaired and restored in 1989.

Ventura Mission Church St Anthony

Picture taken 2:29pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Mother of Sorrows

Picture taken 2:29pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St John

Picture taken 2:29pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St Thomas Aquinas

Picture taken 2:29pm 30 Jan 2012

Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor. St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He entered the order of St. Francis and preached throughout France and northern Italy. He died at Padua in 1231. Mother of Sorrows. The devotion to our Lady’s sorrows were originally practiced by the Servite Order and pope Pius VII extended the feast to the entire Church in 1817. Her feast day is September 15th; the day after the feast of the Holy Cross. Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. St. John, the son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle St. James, was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Jesus committed the care of his Virgin Mother to him. He died toward the end of the first century at Ephesus, in Asia Minor. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor.St. Thomas was the son of a noble entrusted to the care of the Benedictine Monks of Monte Cassino at the age of five. To his family’s dismay, he entered the order of St. Dominic. His behavior earned him the title “Angelic Doctor.”

[Note: A bulto is a statue of Christ, a saint, or the Virgin generally carved from cottonwood root, covered with gesso and painted.]

The right side, the Altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has a centerpiece painting by Francisco Cabrere dating from 1747.

Ventura Mission Church Our Lady of Guadalupe

Picture taken 2:16pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

Picture taken 2:17pm 30 Jan 2012

Shrine of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. In 1531 the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to an Indian convert, Juan Diego. When asked by the bishop to prove his visions, the Virgin impressed a picture of herself on Juan Diego’s Mantle. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patroness of the Americas.

Ventura Mission Church St Dominic

Picture taken 2:17pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St Gertrude

Picture taken 2:17pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St Isidore

Picture taken 2:17pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St Francis of Assisi

Picture taken 2:17pm 30 Jan 2012

Saint Dominic, Priest. St. Dominic was born in 1170 in old Castile, Spain. He was the founder of the Cominican Order, labored with heretics, and spread devotion to the rosary. He died August 6, 1221. Saint Gertrude, Virgin. Born in 1256, St. Gertrude spent much of her life as a cloistered religious. She was favored with remarkable visions of the Sacred Heart and became a mystical writer. She died November 17, 1301. Saint Isidore. Born in 1070, he was a farmer and faithfully and humbly performed the duties of his state in life. Miracles he performed in the field made him famous. He died in 1130 and was canonized in 1622. Saint Francis of Assisi. The “Little Poor Man” was born in 1182. He left his luxurious home to become a friar who wanted to live Gospel poverty and had many followers. Pope Innocent III constituted his new religious family, the Franciscans. Francis died in 1226.

Other Art and Things to See

Aside from the Stations of the Cross, three altars, and the Baptistry there isn’t a great deal of other art in the Church. But there are some interesting things to see.

Ventura Mission Church Our Lady

Picture taken 2:37pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church St Francis

Picture taken 2:26pm 30 Jan 2012

On the Church walls where the entry from the garden is, are two pieces of art. One, over the door, is an image of Our Lady; the other, across the aisle, is a scroll showing Saint Francis.

But, don’t just look at the pieces of art. The Church itself presents a number of examples…

Ventura Mission Church Wall Decorations

Picture taken 2:45pm 30 Jan 2012

Wall decorations were a staple of the mission era. The simple designs and colors were similar through the whole mission chain.

Ventura Mission Church Holy Water Stoup

Picture taken 2:35pm 30 Jan 2012

Blessing oneself with Holy Water on entry to a church is a Catholic ritual. Various designs for the stoup were used and placed at doors to the Church.

Ventura Mission Church Light Fixture

Picture taken 2:32pm 30 Jan 2012

Church lighting was mostly candles. These were placed into decorative holders and hung from the ceiling. Today you find electric lights in the same design.

Ventura Mission Church Back Doors

Picture taken 2:41pm 30 Jan 2012

The back doors to the Church are reproductions. The original doors are in the Mission Museum.

Ventura Mission Church Confessional

Picture taken 2:41pm 30 Jan 2012

At the back of the church sits an ornate confessional. In the missions you usually found a simple window that folded out from the wall. This enclosed box is unusual in that regard.
Ventura Mission Church Roof Beams

Picture taken 2:44pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Roof Beam Detail

Picture taken 2:44pm 30 Jan 2012

Finally, looking up at the beams that support the roof is sometimes instructive. They look like solid wood construction but, like most missions the beams are built to float. This helped protect the Church in an earthquake. You can see how this works by looking closely at some of the beams. The shaking of an earthquake causes the roof beam to slide on the wall holder and some paint is often rubbed off in the process. You can see that in the close-up photo.


In the back of the Church, by the confessional, you will find a locked area. In that area is the baptistry. The area is locked so you’ll have to look in through the bars. When I took these pictures there were several small items of great spiritual (and possibly monetary) value so the area is generally not open to the public. Father Tom, the priest in charge of the Mission, was kind enough to give me access to take the pictures below.

Ventura Mission Church Bapistry

Picture taken 2:43pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Bapistry Entry

Picture taken 2:47pm 30 Jan 2012

The baptismal font is the highlight of the room. But, interesting things can be found on the wall beyond. In the general order shown above we see…

Ventura Mission Church Holy Oils

Picture taken 2:47pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Baptismal Font

Picture taken 2:47pm 30 Jan 2012

Holy Oils Baptismal Font

Ventura Mission Church Unknown Saint

Picture taken 2:48pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Processional Cross

Picture taken 2:49pm 30 Jan 2012

Unknown. Possibly a young St. Francis.  Processional Cross

Two other cases on the walls when I visited contained various relics; including one that is supposed to hold a piece of Christ’s Cross.

Ventura Mission Church Three Relic Display

Picture taken 2:47pm 30 Jan 2012

Ventura Mission Church Seven Relic Display

Picture taken 2:47pm 30 Jan 2012

Three relics are in this display. The largest reliquary at the top contains a piece of the True Cross used to crucify Jesus. On the lower left is a reliquary containing “fragments of the bone and ashes of Saint Mary of the Incarnation found behind the Main Altar in 1957.” On the right is a relic of Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary. Seven relics are in this display. At the top is a relic from Saint Vincent de Paul. Below and to the left is a small reliquary containing fragments from Saint Bonaventure, patron of the Mission. Below and to the right is another reliquary for Saints Bonaventure and Bernard. The ornate reliquary in the center contains relics from Saint Junípero Serra. Below that and to the left and right are reliquaries for Saint Catherine Laboure. Finally, the large reliquary at the bottom is for Saint Jude Thaddeus.

[Update: In August of 2011 security cameras and other security devices were installed in the area thanks to a grant from the California Missions Foundation. A good thing because the November 5, 2012 paper reported that on October 12, 2012 nine of the relics had been stolen. Fortunately, the security tapes revealed that the man stealing the relics was in custody at the time of the police investigation. Two days later the paper reported that all but one of the relics had been recovered. The Saint Vincent de Paul relic was still missing at the time of that article on November 7th. I have not been back to the Mission since that theft and recovery so I do not know if the relics are still on display or not.]

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in this church are large oil paintings. Their origin is not mentioned in Mission literature. The gallery below shows all fourteen of the Stations. Click on a thumbnail to show the full image and then navigate between them in the lightbox or just click on the play button and watch the slide show.

Ventura Mission Stations 01

1 – Jesus is condemned to die

Ventura Mission Stations 02

2 – Jesus carries the cross

Ventura Mission Stations 03

3 – Jesus falls the 1st time

Ventura Mission Stations 04

4 – Jesus meets His Blessed Mother

Ventura Mission Stations 05

5 – Simon helps bear the cross

Ventura Mission Stations 06

6 – Veronica wipes face of Jesus

Ventura Mission Stations 07

7 – Jesus falls a 2nd time

Ventura Mission Stations 08

8 – Jesus meets women of Jerusalem

Ventura Mission Stations 09

9 – Jesus falls the 3rd time

Ventura Mission Stations 10

10 – Jesus stripped of His garments

Ventura Mission Stations 11

11 – Jesus is crucified

Ventura Mission Stations 12

12 – Jesus dies on the cross

Ventura Mission Stations 13

13 – Jesus taken down from the cross

Ventura Mission Stations 14

14 – Jesus body laid in the tomb

Pictures taken 2:20pm 30 Jan 2012