First Come First Served Tours
Hosted Thursday & Friday at 11am
& Saturdays at 10:30am.
Approximately 1 hour long.
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From wedding receptions and Christmas parties to meetings and baby showers, Serra Hall at Old Mission Santa Barbara is the perfect venue for special events.
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The Franciscan Province of St. Barbara is the local administrative region of the Order of Friars Minor, a worldwide Catholic religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. Headquartered in Oakland, California, the St. Barbara Province maintains a broad range of ministries that cross ethnic, cultural and economic boundaries throughout California and in the states of Washington, Oregon and Arizona. Friars from the province also serve in missions in the Holy Land, Mexico, Russia and Peru, as well as ministering among Native American peoples of the southwestern United States.
The Province of St. Barbara incorporates many of the oldest sites in Franciscan history in North America. First arriving in present-day Arizona and New Mexico in 1539, the friars established numerous missions among the native peoples of what is now southwestern United States. When Spain authorized the colonization of California in 1769, Blessed Junípero Serra, OFM, arrived to serve as president of new missions in Alta California. For many generations, the Franciscan friars were the primary representatives of the Catholic church in the western United States. A total of 21 missions stretching from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay area were ultimately established by Serra and his Franciscan successors.
After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, the California missions and property began to be sold off from the newly secularized government of Mexico; Santa Barbara Mission is the only one that has had friars in residence continuously since its founding.
The territory on northern Mexico (now the southwest of the United States) the friars began to move. Some went back to Spain when Mexico gained its independence, some went back to Mexico and a few stayed in mission territory.
In the meantime, Franciscan friars were fleeing anti-Catholic legislation in Germany and coming to the United States, first to minister in the Midwest, and then in California. These friars from Germany founded a number of rural and urban parishes in the West, and their efforts flourished. During this time the territory now was a part of the United States.
In the early 1900s, the Franciscans friars expanded into the states of Washington and Oregon, taking on large mission fields with mixed-nationality ministries. Within 10 years, enough friars were engaged in ministry in the western United States for the region to be incorporated into its own Franciscan province. On December 4, 1915, the Province of St. Barbara was formally established. The new province quickly accepted additional ministries, including Native American mission fields in southern Arizona, New Mexico and California — sometimes returning to areas first evangelized by friars centuries earlier.
Today, 100 years after the establishment of the Province of St. Barbara, Franciscan friars continue in their broad range of ministries, working closely with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and social and economic statuses. Together with the entire Franciscan family, the friars are adapting to a rapidly changing world while remaining true to the spirit of our founder, St. Francis of Assisi.