February 17, 2015- San Antonio
Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo, founded in 1720, is the largest of the San Antonio-area missions, and is known as “Queen of the Missions”. It is about 2.8 miles south of Mission Concepcion, which I profiled in Part 1 of this series.
I first visited this magnificent place in May, 2012, but at dusk. Only the exterior was available for viewing, giving me the sense of San Jose’s enormity and the impetus for a return visit.
Here are some views of the mission’s interior, with the mission church and the soaring arches and beams of its surrounds, being especially impressive. Perhaps nowhere else in North America is the combination of Roman and Moorish influences so pronounced, as it is here.
The garrison encircled the mission church, and the residences of the indigenous, as it did at Mission Concepcion. The raids by Apache and Comanche warriors were aimed at the Spanish, but Coahuiltecans were seen as collaborators with the Europeans, and were equally targeted by the raiders. The thick walls worked, in safeguarding the settlement.
Food production was a major focus of the mission, for reasons of transforming the hunter-gatherer ethos, previously followed by the Coahuiltecans, which ill-served them, in a time of increasing drought. This waterworks and millhouse was a major asset for the populace.
Herbs and grains were dried on outdoor raised racks.
There were twelve outdoor beehive ovens, and at least one indoor fireplace, in each long room.
With nearly 1,500 people living within these walls, order had to be strictly maintained by the garrison commander and Franciscan padre, working closely.
I had an informative and enjoyable hour here at San Jose. As I was leaving, a large songbird I’d not seen before sat, contentedly and chirped a farewell. It seemed not to care, too much, of my being in relative proximity. This mission does get quite a few tour buses, though, so it’s not surprising.
NEXT: Texas’s Own Capistrano