Mission San José, San Antonio Missions National Monument, Texas

Mission San José , San Antonio Missions, Texas
Mission San José , San Antonio Missions, Texas

This Sunday's featured church is a bit non-traditional, as it's more of a historical site than it is a church. Nevertheless, Mission San José is still a practicing Catholic parish, and is known in and around Texas for its fantastic weekly "Mariachi Mass".

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, a small group of Spanish Franciscan priests and settlers constructed the Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo in San Antonio, Texas. At the time, Texas was a Spanish colony, and this type of mission was the center of religious and civic life in New Spain.

Today, Mission San José is the biggest of four Spanish missions along the "Missions Trail" in San Antonio, Texas, which all together make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Spanish misison, San Antonio, Texas
Mission San José in San Antonio

Visit San Antonio Texas, one of the state's most vibrant and historic cities, to pay a visit to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which was recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site! The four sites are located very close to one another, all centrally located around the city of San Antonio. It's doable - and in fact very easy and highly recommended - to visit all four of them in one day. (While you're at it, make a day of it, and stop by the fifth and most famous of the old Spanish missions, the Alamo, which is owned and maintained independently by the State of Texas.)

While each of the San Antonio Missions are beautiful and full of history, today I'm focusing on Mission San José, the biggest and most accessible.

Gardens at Mission San José
Gardens at Mission San José

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

The park headquarters and visitors center for the Missions Historical Park is located at Mission San José, the largest and best-preserved of the four historical missions. Admission to the historical park, as well as guided tours, are free for all visitors.

spanish mission in texas
the old Spanish mission dates back to 1720

While at the park headquarters, be sure to collect a stamp for your national park passport book, and watch the very informative film that plays every thirty minutes telling the story of the Spanish missions in Texas and the Southwest, and the history and culture of the Tejano people who lived in the areas around San Antonio.

statue of st francis of assisi
St. Francis - the mission is run by the Franciscan Order

Today, though still an active Catholic church, Mission San José is one of four historic missions in the Spanish Missions National Historical Park, operated by the US National Park Service. Mission San José, built in the early 1720s, was one of the most important Spanish missions in North America at the time. Today, the old church building is remarkably well-preserved, and full of fascinating Texas history.

Look closely at a small segment of wall where you can still see some of the original brightly colored tiles that once covered the church in red, blue, and yellow patterns. The old mission must have been beautiful, but it's hard to imagine anything but the dusty brown stone of an old Spanish ruin. What must this old church have looked like, covered in brightly colored tiles?

colorful tiles covered the walls of mission san jose san antonio texas
colorful tiles once covered the exterior of the church

Attending Mass at the Historical Missions

If you have time, visit Mission San José on a Sunday at noon for the mission's famous "Mariachi Mass", a full bilingual Catholic mass presented in a vibrant Tejano musical style.

interior Mission San José
interior of Mission San José 

Location, Hours, and Entrance Fees to Mission San José 

Headquarters: Mission San José
2202 Roosevelt Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78210

Open daily sunrise to sunset. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Mariachi Mass - Every Sunday at Mission San José at noon

Admission to the historical sites, as well as frequent guided tours are all free of charge to all visitors.