Serra Cross

On founding the San Buenaventura Mission Saint Serra raised a cross and blessed a patch of land on the beach, south of the present Mission Church. He stayed in the area three weeks before he left for Santa Barbara.

After the establishment of the original Mission Church, a large cross was raised on top of a hill overlooking the Church. This cross served as a “road sign” for travelers looking for the Mission. You can see from the picture below how the cross could be seen from a wide area around.

Ventura Mission Serra Cross Panorama

Picture taken 2:03pm 28 Sep 2011

As you might expect, the original cross fell to the elements and it was replaced in the 1860s. Unfortunately, that cross fell to a storm on 5 November 1875 and was not replaced…for about 40 years. Finally, in 1912 on Admissions Day (9 Sept 1912) the E.C.O. Club, a ladies service organization, had a new (the third) wooden cross at the current location.

The land the cross stood on became a city park in 1918 when 107 acres of land were donated to the city.

Ventura Mission Serra Cross Long View

Picture taken 2:08pm 28 Sep 2011

Improvements to the property were made over the years; the first roads were put in about 1920.

The 150th anniversary Mass was held on the site 31 March 1932. The stone pedestal and path to the pedestal date from that.

In 1941 the city replaced the 1912 cross with the one that stands today. The landscaping was installed by the Downtown Lions Club in the mid-1960s.

Ventura Mission Serra Cross Close View

Picture taken 2:04pm 28 Sep 2011

When you get to the cross, look carefully. The weather and salt air takes its toll.

Ventura Mission Serra Cross Base

Picture taken 2:06pm 28 Sep 2011

In the spring of 2003, the cross was threatened, but not by the weather; it was threatened by a potential constitutional lawsuit using the principle of separation of church and state as the basis for the suit. Since similar lawsuits elsewhere had resulted in the courts ordering crosses taken down the City Council voted on 31 July 2003 to sell the cross and an acre of land surrounding it. On 22 September 2003 this land was bought by San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc., the highest bidder. They paid $104,216.87.

The cross once more only has to worry about the weather.

Location

The Serra Cross is placed on private land on a hill overlooking the city of Ventura. It is surrounded by Grant Park.

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