Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
October 9, 1791
Soledad Mission, has as its namesake, Mary, Our Lady of Solitude. A visit to this mission, just a few miles from the City of Soledad, is an opportunity to experience the solitude defined by its name.
Walk the grounds. Stand silently. Imagine. It’s quiet now, but at one time more than 600 people lived and worked in the mission community. The crumbling adobe brick walls, remnants of living quarters and outlying buildings, are solitary reminders of the life that was.
The hubbub of mission life was in the completion of arduous daily tasks that kept the community fed, clothed and housed. The tasks were rigorous and depended on the hard work of both the padres and local Native Americans.
At the time Soledad Mission was established by Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, the area was still home to the Esselen tribe, the original inhabitants of the valley, living in the village of Chuttusgelis. Descendants of the tribe still live scattered throughout the region. Other indigenous people who came to the mission included those from the Chalon, Yokuts and Salinan tribes.
The nearby Salinas River was a consistent source of water for cattle, sheep, horses and crops. At the peak of productivity, upwards of 20,000 acres were planted with wheat, barley, corn, beans and peas.
In 1832, the Chapel was built. The original bell is located inside the church; a copy hangs on a wooden beam outside its entrance. Inside, the walls are simply adorned in typical style — stenciled wall decorations, depictions of the Stations of the Cross and in the Sanctuary an original painting of Our Lady of Refuge.
Peaceful and quiet, Mission Soledad is a refuge from the past and a place of solitude for the present.