The California Missions On-Line Project
Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad
Founded October 9, 1791

Founding of the mission

Mission Nuestra de la Soledad was founded on October 9, 1791 by Father Fermin Lasuen, Presidente of the California Missions Chain. It was the 13th mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It was named for Our Lady of Solitude. One of the chief purposes of this mission was to facilitate travel between Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo and Mission San Antonio de Padua. The mission system was designed so that each mission was one day's travel from its neighbor.

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Local Indians

The friendly Costanoan Indians gave the mission its name. In 1769, Juan Crespi and Gaspar de Portola visited the area on their way to Monterey. An Indian wandered by and spoke a word over and over. The word sounded like Soledad, which means loneliness in Spanish. The area did in fact seem lonely. The word solitude means loneliness and is one of the designations of the Virgin Mary, for whom the mission is named. There were very few Indians in the area when the mission was founded, which is why it took so long for the mission to be built. There were not enough Indians to do the work. Five years after its founding, the mission population was 727 and in 1820, the number of Indians converted to Christianity was 2,000.

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Economy of the mission

The economy at Mission Nuestra de la Soledad was similar to the other missions in that they planted crops of wheat and corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and sheep. The agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission community and the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served to visitors to the mission. Broad fields supported herds of cattle, several thousand sheep, and five hundred horses.

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The community
Click here to see a video Inside the Mission Quadrangle

Mission Nuestra de la Soledad was set up as a midway point between the missions San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo and Mission San Antonio de Padua. The community prospered at first and the Padres directed the Indians to build an irrigation system from the Salinas River to support the mission with water. The mission had troubles with crops and overflowing rivers. A disease called the plague killed many Indians, and others left to find a better life. When the padres were gone, the Indians abandoned the mission.

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After Mexico won its independence from Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence. After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so since that time. The Mission Nuestra de la Soledad was sold in 1841 for $800.

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For 90 years after the last padre left the mission it sat crumbling in the wind and rain. In 1954, when restoration was begun, only piles of adobe dirt were remaining. All that was left was the front part of the chapel. It is still being rebuilt and restored, archeologists still work at the mission trying to learn from the past. The ruins of the quadrangle, cemetery and some of the rooms can still be seen at the mission.

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Current use

Nuestra de la Soledad today serves a as mission of the parish of Soledad. It is open for visitors, but is not used as a parish church.

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Graphic tour
Click below to see a video Inside the Mission Church
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Mission Quiz

Objective: answer 7 questions correctly. JavaScript required!

1. Who was the founder of Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad?

Junipero Serra
Gaspar de Portola
Fermin Lasuen
Sebastian Vizcaino

2. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad was founded....?

October 9, 1791
September 21, 1769
April 21, 1782
June 14, 1804

3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of the Nuestra Senora de La Soledad Mission?


4. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad was named by....?

Junipero Serra
a local Indian
Fermin Lasuen
Juan Crespi

5. Who did the actual building of the missions?

construction companies
the priests
the soldiers
the local Indians

6. What happened to the missions in 1834?

They opened
The Indians took over

7. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad was established as a...?

church for Indian prisoners
midway point between San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo and San Antonio de Padua
mission hotel

8. The irrigation system at the mission came from the Salinas River was...?

built by soldiers
is on the Navajo reservation
built by the Indians at the padres direction
is named after Father Serra

9. What happened in 1841?

the plague killed all of the Indians
Missions were taken over by Mexican priests
The mission was sold for $800

10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?

Formally return the Mission lands to the Church
Run for President of the United States
Visit the San Antonio de Padua Mission
force the Indians to leave the Mission

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The Mission Page | The Assessment Page |Main Page

Other Nuestra Senora de la Soledad sites:

California Mission Internet Trail

The Spanish Missions of California

California Missions

This project written by Rob Garretson in partial fulfilment of the Master's of Arts Degree from Cal Poly Pomona

Please send questions and/or comments to Mr. Garretson

This page last updated on February 28, 2015