|I spent a couple hours Sunday touring the San Antonio missions. There are a total of 5 of them, including the Alamo which, of course, was later converted to military use. I saw the other 4 which are spread out over about 8 miles and each one is unique. Three of these are active parishes in SA diocese and conduct services and otherwise serve the needs of the people.
First I went to San Jose which was founded in 1720 and is called the Queen of the Missions due to its size, beauty and ornate detail. This shot shows the church itself and the arches were part of the "convento" which housed the priests and other workers.
This window is called "Rosa's window
You can see the intricate detail in these carvings
While we can see the devotion of the carvers in their beauty, we don't realize that many of the symbols were used for other purposes. The missionaries did not always speak all the languages of the native people but they wanted them to know about Jesus and his story. So they used symbols to help communicate the concepts of Christianity. This is the front of the church - Mass was being held during my visit. This mission also had a mill
and this in one of its grinding wheels.
This shows one of the original gates still standing after almost 300 years!
I found this Texas tourist ot pose forme by this old well.
Next I went ot Concepcio n
This mission has original paintings on its walls from the mid 1700s.
Some feature religious symbols but the missionaries also wanted to blend native customs and symbolos so that the people would embrace their new faith. You can see from this doorway that the people were somewhat shaorter then.
Here's a close up of the bell tower
and stairs leading up to it.
The sanctuary here was rather simple
The oldest mission (dating from 1690) and southernmost is called Espada
This mission was also the best landscaped
and its tower had three bells
The whole church,
and some of the remaining walls of the mission.
Here's a photo op.
This bulding continued as a school for many years.
Last I visited San Juan which dates from 1731 in its present locaton.
These gates were very important as they were in the walled cities of the Israelites. A gatekeeper live in a room just inside the gate.
This is the church which is also still active.
It had its own graveyard. Some of the remains have been moved but these are still tended with respect.
This altar is a little more elaborate but walls and pews are still simple.
I liked this Madonna because she looks more like the natives who probably carved her.
I was fascinated by these remnants for a couple reasons. First, I find it amazing that so much still stands three centuries after they were created. We live in such a hectic, disposable society it's neat to see such permanence. Secondly and more more importantly, the purpose of these places flabbergasts me. A handful of men were so burdened for the souls of these native people who did not know our God that they sacrificed everythign to build these missions. We may have our differences with what came later in the Catholic church but yheir overriding purpose was to bring our Jesus to people who didn't know Him! Not really any difference than our state purpose at LBT (and other churches) today, huh?