In 1716, Franciscan Friars established Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña (also Mission Concepción) as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais in East Texas. The mission was originally meant to serve as a basis for converting the Hasinai to Catholicism and teaching them what they needed to know to become Spanish citizens. The friars moved the mission to San Antonio in 1731. After its relocation, the majority of the people in the mission were Pajalats who spoke the Coahuiltecan language. The Catholic Mass is still celebrated every Sunday.
This mission was named in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and of Juan de Acuña, Marqués de Casafuerte. The Marqués was the Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) when the mission was transferred to the San Antonio River in 1731.
The integrity of the roofs of the church and the convent at Mission Concepción prevented many fine examples of frescoes from deteriorating. This time-consuming art form covered the front of the church and most of the interiors of the church and convent. Today, only four rooms clearly show the remnants of the colorful designs painted over 250 years ago.
While many of the existing frescoes are simply decorative, some are symbolic. The most famous fresco on the ceiling of the convent room is a possible depiction of God as a mestizo.
Mission Concepción Church is an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture. Various features have been incorporated in the construction of this and other existing mission churches in the park. Intricate Renaissance and Moorish details complement Romanesque and Gothic arches. It is a cruciform (cross-shaped) building made of limestone. The roof is domed with a dome, with which recent research suggests a deliberate placement of windows to illuminate the main and north side altars on specific festive days. Twin bell towers may have been topped with crosses similar to those in place today. Colorful Moorish designs mix with images showing both Native American and Spanish Catholic influences.
Mission builders, skilled master craftsmen recruited from Mexico, preserved the basic Spanish model, with modifications dictated by border conditions. The quarry from which the Indian mission dug the stone to build their community is located on the grounds of Mission Concepción. The walls of the church are 45 inches thick, but only the inside and outside of the walls are of solid stone-the filling of small stones and the building of debris is between the two layers. The natives of the Missions provided work for the construction of these churches. This activity was one way of fostering a sense of community and providing a means of training mission residents as artisans.
Mission Concepción served for many years as the residence of Father President, a missionary chosen from among his Franciscan brothers from the College of Querétaro to act as local field coordinator. He was administratively in charge of all the Queretaro missions along the San Antonio River.
Mission Concepción hosted religious festivals from the beginning. Missionaries have tried to replace traditional indigenous rituals and celebrations with Christian pageantry. Morality plays and processions such as Las Pastores and Los Posadas, re-acting events around the birth of Jesus, were commonly practiced.
The missionaries, through the baptism and administration of other sacraments, formalized the acceptance of Christianity by the native Americans. This combination of strict teaching and celebration ultimately bore fruit. Today, these mission churches are active parishes, with many members tracing their roots to mission residents a long time ago.
This amazing historic site is located in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, along with these other must-see important historical sites for you to check out:
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