Mission Impossible: La Purísima

Misión la Purísima Concepción de María Santísima is a short detour off of Highway 101 on the outskirts of Lompoc, CA. Founded in 1787, La Purísima is the eleventh of the 21 Franciscan missions in Alta California. Originally in Lompoc proper, it was moved to its present location outside the city and on El Camino Real in 1812 after an earthquake destroyed the original church and vestry.

This is the most complete restoration project on the entire Mission Trail, with work beginning in the 1930s under the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The buildings and grounds are extensive with furnishings, tools, and even animal breeds (Churro sheep, goats, longhorn cattle, burros, etc.) from the Spanish period. More than any other mission I’ve visited, La Purísima really gives one the sense of what life was like back then. And, if you like the outdoors, there are twenty-five miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails to explore.

Because this is also a California State Park (but not one of the many closed due to the inherent cheapness of the California taxpayer), there is a Visitor Centor and Exhibit Hall to get you oriented.

Doesn’t this soldier seem happy to be working at the mission?
I’m sure the sheep and goats are happy too.

Monks were green even way back when: The fountain above was used for drinking, with run-off piped to the lavanderia, whose run-off went to the cistern where soap settled at the bottom and the remaining water was used in the gardens.

Over 1000 people were involved in weaving activities.
The monks apparently had a thing for EVOO.
Confessional or amateur puppet theater? You be the judge.

Is it a sin to covet a monk’s bookshelves? If so, color me guilty.


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