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Strange Mysteries of the Haunted La Purísima Mission

Located in Lompoc, California, is a place that is considered to be the most completely restored Spanish mission in California. Called the Mission La Purísima Concepción, or simply La Purísima Mission, it sits within the larger La Purísima Mission State Historic Park and is steeped in history. Originally established in 1787 by Father Presidente Fermin de Lasuén of the Franciscan order, it during its days was also a major ranching operation, holding an estimated 3,230 cattle, 5,400 sheep, 306 horses, and 39 mules. An earthquake in 1812 destroyed much of the mission, after which it was meticulously rebuilt at a new site a few miles away. The location would know bloodshed in 1824, when the local Chumash Indians, who had long been abused and subjugated by the Spanish, staged a violent revolt shortly after the Mexican War of Independence, taking over the mission by force and holding it for a full month before finally being driven out. In later days the mission would fall to the ownership of the Catholics, and it is now a National Historic Landmark. In addition to the battles, diseases brought by the Spanish also took a heavy toll on the Chumash, with measles and chicken pox killing hundreds. It is unclear if this tumultuous history has anything to do with the supposed hauntings here, but haunted it is, and the La Purísima Mission has long been considered to be perhaps the most haunted mission in California.

La Purísima Mission

La Purísima Mission has attracted many strange tales over the years. Perhaps one of the spookier legends has to do with the priests here losing their minds and turning to worshipping strange pagan gods. The lore is that in their remote location the Catholic priests who took over the place began to lose their faith and go a little nuts out there, engaging in strange occult rituals and summoning up demons, as well as carrying out sadistic experiments on the unsuspecting locals, although what sort of experiments these were remains unclear. The priests apparently formed a sort of cult, prone to terrorizing the neighboring area while wearing long hooded cloaks, and although this sounds like it must surely be spooky myth, one of the most commonly reported paranormal phenomena from the mission is seeing spectral apparitions of hooded figures lurking about, as well as hearing some sort of disembodied chanting.

If robed ghostly figures really are here, then they are not alone. The La Purísima Mission also seems to be a stage upon which ghosts play out scenes from history. Both visitors and staff alike have reported seeing natives and soldiers going about activities as if they are still alive and don’t even they realize they are dead. This includes both mundane activities and routines, as well as reliving battles, and it has been suggested that this might be an example of “place memory,” in which scenes from life are somehow imprinted onto the very fabric of the place itself, replaying like a video upon a tape. There are also the requisite anomalous noises and voices, moving objects, and roving cold or hot spots, and people have reported being prodded or pushed by unseen hands.

The supposed paranormal activity at the mission has managed to attract all manner of paranormal investigators and ghost hunters, famously drawing in the crew of the hit TV show Ghost Adventures. During their time there, the Ghost Adventures crew logged in all manner of paranormal phenomena. They heard mysterious sounds, including a baby crying, disembodied voices, battle cries, knocking, and flute music, recorded EVPs that say “come here”, Spanish words, and “Vincinte”, “lay down”, “sit up”, and “do you belong here?” They recorded orbs, and even caught photographic evidence of what looks like an old fashioned Spanish soldier on a time lapse sequence on a thermal camera. There were also moving objects, such as a bed which mysteriously has its covers messed up within moments of being seen neatly made, something that staff at the mission says happens frequently in that room. One staff member named Dee Lonnon has said of this:

I went out one night, and I was one of the last people to see the building be closed up and locked. I wanted to be there when they opened the room the next morning. By 7 a.m., I took my dogs out there for a walk, and sure enough, the bed was messed up, just like someone had been under the covers overnight. That the Mission is haunted, and many come to see for themselves. We have had several paranormal groups come out and pay a fee to be on the grounds at night and have access to the rooms where they set up their equipment to record sounds or pictures. These groups seem to enjoy the experience and tell me they have recorded evidence of paranormal activity

In this case, the crew of Ghost Adventures would leave convinced that the mission was an intensely haunted location, and many others would agree. This haunted heritage is not something the mission likes to advertise today, and it mostly embraces more of the aspect of it being an important historical landmark. Today it is all immaculately preserved to look much as it did back in the 1800s, including ten preserved buildings that include a church, shops, living quarters, and blacksmith shop. To this day the place retains its aura of mystique and generates stories of ghostly phenomena, and it is hard to know what to think of it all. Considering that it is open to the public for tours maybe it is a place worth checking out to see for yourself. Just know what you are perhaps getting yourself into before you go.