Friday, March 22, 2013

Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo part 2

As I drove up to the mission I had to stop to make this picture because I had the sudden realization that this was exactly the view that travelers approaching from the south would have seen when the mission was functioning.  I can only imagine what a welcome sight it was to weary travelers who knew that soon they would be safe within the compound walls. Today there is city all around the mission, but it appears isolated from this view.
The grist mill was restored in the 1930's with funding from the National Society of Colonial Dames in Texas.  It was running in this picture; the park ranger had just finished filling the bowl on the floor with ground wheat.
These stones in the plaza represent the foundation of a workshop discovered during restoration work.  In mission times the Indians lived in quarters in the walls around the plaza. Originally there were just dwellings and no walls, but increasing Apache raids necessitated the enclosure of the mission with a solid wall.  Workshops for blacksmithing and weaving and other mission activities were also in the walls.  By the 1930's the walls were non-existent with roads crossing over the plaza. 
When I brought my Girl Scout troop to tour the mission, we ate our picnic lunch in the plaza. I'm not sure if they would let us do that again!  But the girls did not leave any trash behind, they were very mindful of being respectful while on the grounds. 

These arched walls are all that remain of the convento where the Franciscan priests lived.  Benedictine priests from Pennsylvania lived at the mission from 1859 to 1868.  They were brought to the mission as part of a program to revive San Jose.  
They began a restoration project on the convento which was left unfinished. Their renovation added the pointed Gothic arches.
The interior of the chapel recently went under another complete makeover.  The roof had completely collapsed prior to restoration in the 1930's; for many years  prior to that the mass was held in the sacristy with worshipers standing outside.  Today San Jose is an active parish. It is not uncommon to see a wedding or baptism taking place when you visit.  The church itself is owned and maintained by the Catholic Church, thus avoiding conflict of church and state.
As with any old property, the maintenance and renovation process is constant.  Due to work on the chapel I did not take a picture of the Rose Window because of equipment and wall coverings being in the way. I thought I had one from prior visits but I can't find it, so I'll just have to go back!


  1. Beautiful shots and love the story! This makes me want to visit! In all my years of living in Texas, and travels to San Antonio and the area, I never went here.

    1. I think the missions are overlooked as an attraction for visitors, they are a well kept secret. I think you have to have a sense of the importance of history, otherwise a visitor will feel like the husbands whose wives talked them into guaranteeing the loans for preservation purchases...the husbands referred to the missions as "a pile of rocks"

  2. They have now been designated as a World Heritage Site.