Imagine living in a place for 12 years and not knowing one of California’s Missions was nearby! I’m no longer unaware, but the Santa Clara Mission was difficult to find. It is hidden within the campus of Santa Clara University. Well, not really hidden. It’s the centerpiece of the campus. However there is no sign saying, “Hey, Anne, look here for the mission!”

Fortunately, students were at the Starbucks where I stopped and told me how to find the Mission. It’s location and lack of signage got me wondering: I know the mission came first, but how did Santa Clara University manage to build around it?

Here’s the answer from the University website.

Historic Mission Santa Clara is a beautiful icon that sits at the center of our campus.  First established in 1777, the Franciscan Order handed the Mission over to the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1851, who then started Santa Clara College, the first institution of higher education in California.  Today, the Mission serves as the student chapel for Santa Clara University.

If you’re not familiar with the California Missions, they are a series of 21 missions founded by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833, in an effort to expand Christianity among the Native Americans along the California coast. I’ve visited many, but not all, of the Missions. This one blends so well with the College architecture.

I did get inside the chapel, but wasn’t prepared with my tripod. I did the best I could with a high ISO and Lightroom. The images are little grainy, but you can still see the simple beauty.

The surrounding campus is also beautiful. It must be nice to be a student there. Enjoy your Mission and campus tour. I did, once I found it!

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