Holding Pattern

That’s what January feels like to me. I like it actually, and feel lucky that snow and sleet and misery are rarely part of my winter experience. Even so, it takes several days of compelling sunshine to motivate a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Spanish missions near San Antonio post-holidays as a change from dark mornings and quieter days.

Operated by the National Park Service, the lesser known missions are short distances apart, several miles south of the Alamo. Spanish Franciscan missionaries worked to convert those who arrived for protection and food in the mid-1700s, building communities for “New Spain”.  Each mission, crafted by Mexican artisans with Indian labor, has its own story of hardship, success and failure. In varying states of restoration, several are still used as active parish churches. The mission compounds must have appeared as mirages to weary frontier travelers; I found them beautiful.


San Francisco de la Espada



Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepcion



San Juan Capistrano



Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo