Mission San Francisco de la Espada

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Mission San Francisco de la Espada
Mission Espada Chapel2.JPG
The church of Mission San Francisco de la Espada.
Affiliation Catholic (Roman Rite)
Location San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
USA Texas location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Shown within Texas
Geographic coordinates 29°19′04″N98°27′00″W / 29.317833°N 98.449968°W / 29.317833; -98.449968 Coordinates: 29°19′04″N98°27′00″W / 29.317833°N 98.449968°W / 29.317833; -98.449968
Architectural style Spanish Colonial
CompletedFounded 1690
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Added to NRHP February 23, 1972; January 28, 1974
NRHP Reference no.72001351; 74002324
Official name: San Antonio Missions
Designated2015 (39th session)
Reference no. 1466
State PartyFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Region Europe and North America

Mission San Francisco de la Espada (also Mission Espada) is a Roman Rite Catholic mission established in 1690 by Spain and relocated in 1731 to present-day San Antonio, Texas, in what was then known as northern New Spain. The mission was built in order to convert local Native Americans to Christianity and solidify Spanish territorial claims in the New World against encroachment from France. [1] Today, the structure is one of four missions that comprise San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Roman Rite most common rite practiced in the Latin Catholic Church

The Roman Rite is the most widespread liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, as well as the most popular and widespread Rite in all of Christendom, and is one of the Western/Latin rites used in the Western or Latin Church. The Roman Rite gradually became the predominant rite used by the Western Church. Many local variants, not amounting to distinctive Rites, existed in the medieval manuscripts, but have been progressively reduced since the invention of printing, most notably since the reform of liturgical law in the 16th century at the behest of the Council of Trent (1545–63) and more recently following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

New Spain viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a viceroyalty, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the viceroyalty was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.



Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near Weches, Texas and southwest of present-day Alto, Texas, Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the second mission established in Texas.

Weches, Texas Unincorporated community in Texas, United States

Weches is an unincorporated community in Houston County, Texas, United States. It is located along the route of the Old San Antonio Road near the Neches River, about twenty-one miles northeast of Crockett. The population was 26 according to the 2000 census.

Alto, Texas Town in Texas, United States

Alto is a town in Cherokee County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,225 at the 2010 census.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Three priests, three soldiers and supplies were left among the Nabedache Indians. The new mission was dedicated on June 1, 1690. A smallpox epidemic in the winter of 1690-1691 killed an estimated 3,300 people in the area. The Nabedache believed the Spaniards brought the disease and hostilities developed between the two groups.

The Nabedache were a Native American tribe from eastern Texas. Their name, Nabáydácu, means "blackberry place" in the Caddo language. An alternate theory says their original name was Wawadishe from the Caddo word, witish, meaning "salt."

Smallpox infectious disease that has been eradicated

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977 and the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980. The risk of death following contracting the disease was about 30%, with higher rates among babies. Often those who survived had extensive scarring of their skin and some were left blind.

Drought besieged the mission in the summers of 1691 and 1692, and the Nabedache wished to get rid of the mission. Under threat of personal attack, the priests began packing their belongings in the fall of 1693. On October 25, 1693, the padres burned the mission and retreated toward Monclova. The party lost its way and did not reach Monclova until February 17, 1694. [2]

Monclova Place in Coahuila, Mexico

Monclova, is a city and seat of the surrounding municipality of the same name in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. According to the 2015 census there were 231,107 inhabitants in the city. Its metropolitan area has 381,432 inhabitants and has a population density of 29.88 inhabitants per square kilometers. Monclova is the third largest city and metropolitan area in the state in terms of population, after Torreón and Saltillo.

The mission was re-established in the same area on July 5, 1716 as Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas. The new mission had to be abandoned in 1719 because of conflict between Spain and France.

The mission was tried once more on August 5, 1721 as San Francisco de los Neches. As the Nabedache were no longer interested in the mission, and France had abandoned effort to lay claim in the area, the mission was temporarily relocated along the Colorado River in July 1730. Mission Tejas State Park encompasses the original site of the mission.

Colorado River (Texas) river in Texas

The Colorado River is an 862-mile (1,387 km) long river in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 18th longest river in the United States and the longest river with both its source and its mouth within Texas.

Mission Tejas State Park

Mission Tejas State Park is a 660-acre (270 ha) state park located along Texas State Highway 21 in Houston County, Texas, originally constructed in 1935 and transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1957. The closest major town is Crockett, Texas. The park is open year-round.

The mission relocated to its current location in the San Antonio River area (coordinates 29.3177°, -98.4498°) in March, 1731 and was renamed San Francisco De la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756. The relocation was in part inspired by fears of French encroachment and need for more Missionaries to tend to San Antonio de Bexar's Indian population. [3] The Mission encountered great difficulties in presiding over the Indian population and experienced common rebellious activity. [4]

Monastery complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monks or nuns

A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory.

Church (building) building constructed for Christian worship

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, the church is often arranged in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the longest part of a cross is represented by the aisle and the junction of the cross is located at the altar area.

Several modern churches have been architecturally based on the design of this mission including St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Wimberley, Texas, north of San Antonio.

Rancho de las Cabras

Rancho de las Cabras was established between 1750 and 1760, 30 miles southeast of San Antonio de Bexar under the jurisdiction of Mission Espada, so as to provide land for cultivation of crops and livestock for the Mission's population without intruding on private lands. [5] The ranch was primarily made up by low fences and thatched buildings known as jacales for the native workforce to inhabit. [5] According to Ethno-Historian T.N. Campbell, the ranch was likely constructed by Indians not native to Texas. [5] It is listed separately as part of the World Heritage Site.

Espada Acequia

Mission Espada, 2011 Mission Espada, distant exterior.jpg
Mission Espada, 2011

Mission San Francisco de la Espada's acequia and aqueduct can still be seen today. The main ditch continues to carry water to the mission and its former farm lands. This water is still used by residents living on these neighboring lands.

The use of acequias was originally brought to the arid regions of Spain and Portugal by the Romans and the Moors. When Franciscans missionaries arrived in the desert Southwest they found the system worked well in the hot, dry environment.

In order to distribute water to the missions along the San Antonio River, Franciscan missionaries oversaw the construction of seven gravity-flow ditches, dams, and at least one aqueduct a 15-mile (24 km) network that irrigated approximately 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land.

See also

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Espada Acequia

The Espada Acequia, or Piedras Creek Aqueduct, was built by Franciscan friars in 1731 in what is now San Antonio, Texas, United States. It was built to supply irrigation water to the lands near Mission San Francisco de la Espada, today part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The acequia is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a National Historical Park and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving four of the five Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio, Texas, USA. These outposts were established by Catholic religious orders to spread Christianity among the local natives. These missions formed part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Spanish missions in Texas

The Spanish Missions in Texas comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans to spread the Catholic doctrine among area Native Americans, but with the added benefit of giving Spain a toehold in the frontier land. The missions introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and industry into the Texas area. In addition to the presidio (fort) and pueblo (town), the misión was one of the three major agencies employed by the Spanish crown to extend its borders and consolidate its colonial territories. In all, twenty-six missions were maintained for different lengths of time within the future boundaries of the state of Texas.

Mission San José (Texas)

Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo is an historic Catholic mission in San Antonio, Texas, United States. The mission was named in part for the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo, José de Azlor y Virto de Vera. Many buildings on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, borrow architectural elements from those found at Mission San José.

Mission San Juan Capistrano (Texas)

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1731 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order, on the eastern banks of the San Antonio River in present-day San Antonio, Texas. The new settlement was named for a 15th-century theologian and warrior priest who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The mission San Juan was named after Saint John of Capestrano.

San Antonio River river in the United States of America

The San Antonio River is a major waterway that originates in central Texas in a cluster of springs in midtown San Antonio, about 4 miles north of downtown, and follows a roughly southeastern path through the state. It eventually feeds into the Guadalupe River about 10 miles from San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The river is 240 miles long and crosses five counties: Bexar, Goliad, Karnes, Refugio, and Wilson.

San Pedro Springs

San Pedro Springs is the name of a cluster of springs in Bexar County, Texas, U.S.A. These springs provide water for San Pedro Creek, which flows into the San Antonio River. The San Antonio Springs also feed into the San Antonio River.

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail auto trail

The El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail is a National Historic Trail covering the U.S. section of the El Camino Real de Los Tejas, a thoroughfare from the 18th-century Spanish colonial era in Spanish Texas instrumental in the settlement, development and history of Texas. The National Park Service designated the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail as a unit in the National Historic Trail system in 2004.

Spur 122 is a 5.664-mile (9.115 km) spur route in the U.S. state of Texas that follows a former route of U.S. Highway 181 (US 181) in San Antonio. Spur 122 follows Presa Street from US 181 near the city limits on the southeast side of San Antonio towards the northwest ending at Loop 13 just east of the San Antonio River. The spur provides access to Mission San Francisco de la Espada and other parks along the banks of the San Antonio River.

Mission Concepcion

Franciscan Friars established Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña in 1716 as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais in East Texas. The mission was originally meant to be a base for converting the Hasinai to Catholicism and teaching them what they needed to know to become Spanish citizens. The friars moved the mission in 1731 to San Antonio. After its relocation most of the people in the mission were Pajalats who spoke a Coahuiltecan language. Catholic Mass is still held every Sunday.

The City of San Antonio is one of the oldest Spanish colonization of the European settlements in Texas and was, for decades, its largest city. Before Spanish colonization, the site was occupied for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Payaya Indians were likely those who encountered the first Europeans.

Antonio de Olivares Spanish franciscan

Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares or simply Fray Antonio de Olivares was a Spanish Franciscan who officiated at the first Catholic Mass celebrated in Texas, and he was known for contributing to the founding of San Antonio and to the prior exploration of the area.

Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga

Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, also known as Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia, was a Roman Catholic mission established by Spain in 1722 in the Viceroyality of New Spain—to convert native Karankawa Indians to Christianity. Together with its nearby military fortress, Presidio La Bahia, the mission upheld Spanish territorial claims in the New World against encroachment from France. The third and final location near Goliad, Texas is maintained now as part of Goliad State Park and Historic Site.

Presidio San Antonio de Béxar

Presidio San Antonio de Béxar was a Spanish fort built near the San Antonio River, located in what is now San Antonio, Texas, in the United States. It was designed for protection of the mission system and civil settlement in central Texas. It also served to secure Spain's claim to the region from French, English and American aggression. It was built by Franciscan priest Antonio de Olivares and the Payaya; and along with the Misión de San Antonio de Valero and the Acequia Madre de Valero, is the origin of the present city of San Antonio, Texas.

Damián Massanet was a Spanish Franciscan priest who co-founded the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, the first missionary college in New Spain.

Acequia Park

Acequia Park is located in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. There are picnic tables and restrooms, but alcohol is not allowed in the park. The origins of the park date back to Spanish missionaries, who worked with mission Indians to create a water system sourced by the San Antonio River. The San Antonio Conservation Society (SACS) purchased much of this acreage in 1957 to preserve the area's environment. Because the San Antonio River Authority planned to reconfigure the river channel, SACS joined local land owners in filing a successful water rights and water flow lawsuit against the Authority. In 1975, SACS deeded the property to the City of San Antonio with the stipulation that it be used as a public park.

Acequia Madre de Valero (San Antonio) canal in Texas, United States of America

Acequia Madre de Valero is an 18th-century agricultural irrigation canal built by the Spanish and located in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. When Martín de Alarcón founded San Antonio for Spain by establishing San Antonio de Valero Mission in 1718, Franciscan priest Antonio de Olivares and the Payaya Indians dug Acequia Madre de Valero by hand. It was vital to the missions to be able to divert and control water from the San Antonio River, in order to grow crops and to supply water to the people in the area. This particular acequia was the beginning of a much wider acequia system. Acequia Madre de Valero ran from the area currently known as Brackenridge Park and southward to what is now Hemisfair Plaza and South Alamo Street. Part of it that is not viewable by the public runs beneath the Menger Hotel. The acequia was restored in 1968 and that year was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

San Antonio Missions (World Heritage Site) world heritage site in the United States

The San Antonio Missions are a World Heritage site located in and near San Antonio, Texas, United States. The World Heritage site consists of five mission sites, a historic ranch, and related properties. The missions and ranch are:

  1. Mission Espada
  2. Mission San Juan Capistrano
  3. Mission San José
  4. Mission Concepción
  5. Mission Valero
  6. Rancho de las Cabras


  1. Hinojosa, Gilberto M. (1990-01-01). "Friars and Indians: Towards a Perspective of Cultural Interaction in the San Antonio Mission". U.S. Catholic Historian. 9 (1/2): 7–26. JSTOR   25146234.
  2. Chipman, Donald E. Spanish Texas 1519-1821. University of Texas Press: Austin, Third paperback printing, 1997. p. 99.
  3. Poyo, Gerald E. (2011). Tejano Origins in Eighteenth-Century San Antonio. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. p. 62.
  4. Torres, Luis (1992). San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Texas: Western National Parks Association. p. 26.
  5. 1 2 3 "Rancho de las Cabras". www.texasbeyondhistory.net. Retrieved 2015-12-03.