Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña

Mission Concepcion was established on this site in 1731 when Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de los Hainais was relocated here from East Texas after struggling to survive since its founding in 1716. In this location the renamed mission was successful in spite of the harshness of the land, Comanche raids, and deadly epidemics that periodically depleted the Indian population.

The stone for the church and mission buildings was quarried from a nearby quarry which is still visible today although it resembles only a shallow, grassy pit on the edge of the mission grounds.  

The style is considered to be Spanish Colonial, but information in the mission referred to the style as Spanish Baroque with Moorish elements in the arches and windows. 

The most striking features are the original Native Indian paintings that survive on the interior walls of the convento.  Time had taken its toll on the frescoes, obliterating them with dirt and salt deposits from the limestone wall. In 1988 an international team of experts cleaned the frescoes and stabilized the walls.

Prior to the restoration only one eye was visible on this fresco that was referred to as the "Eye of God". Peeling away the layers of grime revealed this delightful mestizo face surrounded by a sunlike halo. 

The church was used for many purposes after secularization was completed in 1824. From 1855 to 1911 there were several efforts to re-establish the church. In 1913 the refurbished church re-opened and continues today to serve the community.

Mission Concepcion and the other 4 San Antonio Missions are administered by the National Park Service as part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  However, the Catholic Church owns and maintains the parish churches as part of the agreement reached in 1978 to avoid conflicts of church and state.

In 2015 the 5 missions were named World Heritage sites.

The interior of the church is quite dramatic (even if there is a guy on a ladder changing light bulbs). 

Concepcion is the best preserved of the Texas missions.  Most of what is visible today is original; the church is thought to be the nation's oldest unreconstructed Spanish church. Preservation efforts included re-routing a road around the original mission walls to open up the space around the mission.


  1. This is beautiful! As many times as I was in the area, I never saw any of the other missions that are there. I am always mesmerized by the interior of these early churches.

    1. Even though the missions are preserved as places to visit and most of the outer buildings long gond their original use seems very vivid and, for me, it is easy to imagine the native Indians and the priests at work on their daily tasks. Just their survival and success is something to marvel over!

      The churches are intriguing, especially since they are still used for worship. Even though I'm not Catholic I would like to attend a mass at one. I've heard that Christmas Eve is especially moving!