Mission Espada, San Antonio, Texas

I photographed the furthest south, and perhaps most humble, Mission San Francisco de la Espada sits among ranchitos, out in the shrubby brush at the edge of the city of San Antonio. Under heavy restoration, I had to take my photos through a chain-link fence.

There are all sorts of legends about the “broken arch,” but honestly, it perhaps shows the influence of the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini, who superimposed a triangle over three circles for the ground plan of his famous church of Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome. I suspect that the architect of this church at one point saw, or heard about that church, and was influenced to create this door. I also see Moorish influence as well. Again, that simple, slightly naïve expression of devotion that creates such interesting architecture.

And yes, just like San Juan, they had big plans for an expansion, which never happened.

Most of the rest of the compound sits in ruins, quietly resting at the far end of the mission area.

There is an irrigation system nearby that served this mission.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Simons says:

    Hello Chris. I just stumbled across this post on Mission Espada and found it interesting and pretty accurate. I am a professional tour guide here in San Antonio and have been doing extensive research on Espada for over 5 years. I will suggest you take a look at my website, http://www.espadadoor.com and see if I can change your mind about the Moorish influence at this mission!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Bill, I just took a look at your site, and your research is very fascinating! Have you looked at the design of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza? I still think the original, distant influence on Mexican Baroque comes from the Roman Baroque. Thank you for sharing with me!

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