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.
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.
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.
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.
After Mexico won its
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 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.
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.
Objective: answer 7 questions correctly.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad
3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of
La Soledad Mission?
4. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad
5. Who did the actual building of the
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. Mission Nuestra Senora de La Soledad
for Indian prisoners
point between San Carlos de
Borromeo de Carmelo and San Antonio
8. The irrigation system at the mission
the Navajo reservation
the Indians at the padres
after Father Serra
9. What happened in 1841?
plague killed all of the
were taken over by Mexican
mission was sold for $800
10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in
return the Mission lands to
President of the United
the San Antonio de Padua
the Indians to leave the
Mission Internet Trail
Spanish Missions of California
This project written by Rob
partial fulfilment of
of Arts Degree
Please send questions
and/or comments to Mr.
This page last updated
on February 28, 2015