Re-post: Mission San José

29 12 2010

Originally posted on December 8, 2008

On Saturday my father and I went on a photo field trip to Mission San José, one of the five on “The Mission Trail” that runs along the San Antonio River. The most famous of these missions is The Alamo, formerly named Misión San Antonio de Valero, and intended to serve as a home to missionaries and their converts in this region. Today it is commemorated for the role it played in the Texas Revolution.

In 1718 Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the first mission. The purpose of the mission was to acculturate and Christianize the native population and make them Spanish citizens. The largest one, Mission San José, is known as the “Queen of the Missions,” and was founded in 1720. It was almost fully restored to its original design in the 1930s by the Works Projects Administration. The mission was named for Saint Joseph and the Marqués de San Miquel de Aguayo, the governor of the Province of Coahuila and Texas during that time. It was founded by Father Antonio Margil de Jesús, a prominent Franciscan missionary. It is still an active parish with mass held on Sundays.

I have photographed this mission several times over the years and all of my previous images are on Fuji slide film (in pre-digital times; remember those days?). It was a joy to photograph it digitally this time, especially inside the chapel and the living quarters where light was scarce and the instant feedback from digital capture was much appreciated!

EPILOGUE: My father and I just returned from a foray at Half Price Books & Records on Broadway. He picked up a copy of “Texas Sketchbook: A Collection of Historical Stories from the Humble Way,” published by Humble Oil with text by F.T. Fields and illustrations by E.M. Schiwetz. I flipped through it and in the front was an essay about Mission San José. Here’s an excerpt that I found interesting and timely—since we just visited San José this past weekend:

Like all missions, San Jose has its share of legends. At the proper time and under the right conditions, one is supposed to be able to hear ghostly conversations at its “Window of the Voices” and catch the soft tread of sandaled and moccasined feet within its walls.

But perhaps the saddest and most romantic of legends about the place concerns a young Spanish nobleman, Don Luis Angel de Leon and his fiancee, Teresa. Leaving Teresa in Spain, Don Luis journeyed to the New World. He planned to return to her, but was killed in an Indian raid and buried in the mission cemetery. News of his death reached Teresa just as she was gathered with others to celebrate the casting of new bells for San Jose. Grief-stricken, she removed a gold ring and cross Don Luis had given her and flung them into the metal from which the bells were to be cast. As she did so she prayed that the bells might take a message to her dead betrothed. Legend has it that the bells delivered the message when they first rang the Angelus over Don Luis’ grave. And from that time forward, the bells of San Jose were marked by a particularly beautiful tone.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.




One response

31 12 2010

More potential photography art for a calendar, enough for a full year and several bonus photos! I am particularly impressed by your shot of the dude with the crooked leg—not by the dude, mind you, just for your digital representation of him.

You should continue to keep pulling your work out of the archives and posting it on your blog—nay, you should accelerate the practice—it revives and enhances memories for viewers that have been there, and provides fodder for bucket lists for other viewers.

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