About the Missions – A Short History

The Franciscan missionaries wanted to convert the Indians to the Catholic faith and to “civilize” them. They also hoped to teach the Indians skills ranging from cattle ranching to carpentry, which would allow them to be stable, self-sustaining communities.

The Spanish authorities wanted to extend the land under Spain’s control by establishing settlements. They also wanted to ward off entrance by the French (from nearby Louisiana) into what the Spanish thought was their territory.

The Indians sometimes welcomed the teaching that the missionaries brought, sometimes just wanted Spanish protection from their enemies, and sometimes wanted nothing to do with the missionaries.

Establishing a successful mission was difficult. Texas was on the frontier, and the friars and their followers were far from supplies or support. Establishing a mission required courage and hard physical work. The missionaries were affected by disease, starvation, floods and other natural disasters, and attacks by hostile Indians.

Sometimes a mission was established to discourage French raids, then closed due to fear of French attack, and then rebuilt in another location a year later.

Source: About the Missions – A Short History

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