San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 19
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MISSION SAN JOSE.
altar, much the worse for age, scenes from the life of St. Joseph. One is very
plainly the " Flight into Egypt." The other, more difficult to make out, is most
likely a picture of the Circamcision. The fan-like fluted canopies of the window
and recesses have a pretty architectural effect. The cloisters and cells, which
were of two stories, are quite extensive with a double series of arches stretching
eastwardly from the main building. The outside arches are plain, wide semi-
circular arches, and pointed Gothic arches inside and on the second floors.
These monastic additions to the Mission had formerly fallen very much into
decay, but in 1859 some Benedictine fathers arrived here from St. Vincent's
Abbey in the Pittsburg Diocese, Pennsylvania, with the intention of rebuilding
these rooms and cloisters for scholastic purposes. The intention was only par-
tially carried into effect. The industrious fathers rebuilt many of the upper
Gothic arches, as far as can be learned, manufacturing their own red bricks for
that purpose and the making of the big oven at the east end. What finally inter-
fered with this purpose of the Benedictines it is difficult to discover, but it is more
than likely that wars and rumors of wars and an unsettled epoch had much to do
with the abandonment of their project, adding one more unfinished chapter to the
heroic history of the Catholic Church in Texas.
Notwithstanding their irrigation ditches and the proximity of the River to
all the four Missions, the constructors did not forget one important item-water,
in case of the community being confined to the Mission Square. Each of the
Missions has a substantially built, serviceable well, sunk close to the main building.
San Jose was erected under more than ordinary difficulty, the builders being
under constant fear and expectation of attack by hostiles. Perhaps fear is a word
too foreign to the natures of these brave and religious pioneers who strtlggled
with such pious determination to success. It must have been very disheartening
to find that all their faithful labor was in vain, though no record of any such ex-
pression is extant. Captain Pike, who in his famous expedition visited this
Mission in 1807, relates that the Priest told him that " it appeared to him that the
Indians could not exist under the shadow of the whites-as the nations who
formed the San Antonio Missions had been nurtured and taken all the care of
that it was possible, and put on the same footing as the Spaniards ; yet, notwith-
standing they had dwindled away until the other two Missions (San Juan Capes-
trana [sic] and La Purisima Concepcion)* had become entirely depopulated, and
the one where he resided had not then more than sufficient to perform his house-
hold labor. From this he had formed an idea that God never intended them to
form one people, but that they should always remain distinct and separate." -
Bishop Neraz thinks the figures on the front of San Jose to be, The Virgin,
San Jose, San Benedict, San Augustine and San Francisco. Other authorities
have given a slight variation of this list. The front was frescoed in red, blue
and yellow in pretty designs, but this is now very difficult to discern.
* Census of 1805 showed forty-one souls in Mission Concepcion.
t This extract from "Pike's Expedition " is taken from Yoakum's History, Vol. I., p. fil. With regard to
this-Where are the nations of the Indian ("with half his face vermilion") mentioned in the Records of Marriages
of Mission Concepcion ? (See Interview with Bishop Neraz) " Even with the good Knight Charlemaiin! "
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/53/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.