Spreading the Faith

The church was the center of mission life.

Made from adobe, the church had interior plastered walls painted white with red designs. An adobe floor and roof constructed of vigas (heavy wooden beams) completed the church’s construction. The buildings to the north included a sacristy for storing priestly vestments, communal wine, and church furnishings, and the convento (living quarters) for the missionaries.

The missionaries oversaw the instruction of new converts, said mass, and guided spiritual affairs. The friars arose daily at sunrise and rang the church bell for mass. In the afternoons and evenings the bell was rung again for prayers. From their convento, the friars wrote letters, recorded religious events, and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine.

Sketch of the church and main gate wall based on archaeological findings.

Artifacts from the excavation of the church

Masses were held daily and baptisms, marriages, and funerals were also performed. Children and newly baptized Lipan were expected to learn the catechism and participate in church activities. In all, 114 baptisms, 5 marriages, and 28 Indian burials were recorded. Additional deaths were recorded after two smallpox epidemics ravaged the mission. The illness took the lives of more than 60 individuals, mostly Indians, including 40 children and 27 adults.

A religious medallion from the 1962 excavations.

A crucifix from the 1962 excavations.

Wine bottle fragments from the 1962 excavations.