Francis slaying the Antichrist
Archangel Michael in action
Espada Today 3'10" X 7'10"
All measurements are inside dimensions. Espada Proposed (shortened) would have fit under the choir loft the same as the current design.
Espada Proposed 6' X 9'
St. Francis, a true pacifist, was a known devotee of Archangel Michael, and the painting was most likely a "mashup" of the two. The men who named the mission would certainly have been aware of this painting. It would also have the benefit of showing the Indians that Men of God could be warriors, as well.
Thanks for input from NPS Volunteer Emeritus George Dawson and CAR Historical Archaeologist Clinton McKenzie for their intelletual contributions on this subject
Espada Proposed (shortened) 5.5' X 7'10"
San Francisco de la Espada
Another mystery is how the mission got the name "of the Sword". Often they would honor the official who granted his permission to build it, such as in San Antonio de Valero, but there is no record of anyone by that name in a position to get the honor.
In 1691 Cristobal de Villapando, one of the preeminent Spanish Colonial artists , was commissioned by the Franciscans to create a series of paintings depicting St. Francis. One of those paintings depicts him thrusting a sword into the heart of the Antichrist.
Mission Espada ca. 1877 Before restoration by Father Bouchu
The truth may never be known, but this one is pretty feasible.
Mission Concepcion 6' X 9'
Mission Espada was closed for good in 1824, it's fields given to the remaining Indian inhabitants and the land comprising the compound being sold piecemeal. Father Francois Bouchu, a French born, Galveston trained priest moved in around 1870 and proceeded to resurrect the old mission. He first rebuilt the convento to be his home and added a country store to one end. Profits from that store and generous donations allowed him to purchase back all of the mission grounds and rebuild the iconic sacristy-turned-church, of which only the front facade was still standing. He held mass there until a week before his death in 1907 at the age of 78.