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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

White Mission and priest in blue robe with Native American youth

Roman Catholic missionaries came to what later became Texas with the Spanish conquistadors. All of the missionaries were Franciscans, and their main goal in the area was to pacify and convert the native peoples to the Catholic Church. As they entered new areas, their plan was to congregate the Indians around a church, then instruct them in the faith and in a trade.

The missions were usually a complex of buildings that included a chapel, housing for Native Americans, priests, and soldiers; workshops and classrooms; shops for carpenters, blacksmiths and tailors; a granary; a cemetery; and a garden and an orchard. Most missions were surrounded by fortified walls to protect against hostile Indians of other tribes.

The first missionary attempts occurred around 1630 under the direction of Fray Juan de Salas. Corpus Christi de la Isleta, established near El Paso, was the first Spanish mission and pueblo in Texas; it was established for the Tigua Indians. The second mission was Nuestra Señora de la Concepción del Socorro (Socorro), established for the Piro, Tano and Jemez Indians.

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extended activity
Draw a blueprint for a mission. Include all of the living spaces and areas surrounding the mission.

Related Links:

History of Religion in Texas from the Texas Almanac

A virtual tour of Mission Ysleta, Mission Socorro, and the Chapel San Elciario

Read More, Learn More:

Burke, James Wakefield. 1971. Missions of Old Texas. AS Burns and Co.: New York.

Timmons, W. H. ed. 1980. Four Centuries at the Pass. El Paso: Guynes Printing