December 2004 was our first visit to Goliad. The weather was warm, highs in the seventies. Mission Espiritu Santo was lit much as it is today with Christmas lights. A pathway between the ranger station and the Mission was lighted by faux candles faux in paper bags as it is today.
Goliad State Park and Historic Site is one of Texas’ go-to parks for capturing the Christmas spirit. The mission nighttime lighting evokes memories of a time when Christ was in Christmas. Puts me right into the Christmas spirit.
Goliad State Park and Historic Site offers one hour history tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Attendees gather on the mission porch which can be accessed through park headquarters (ranger station).
HINT: There are no identifying marks signs or placards for the mission porch. Look for the museum door next to the church. Standing outside the museum door means you are standing on the porch.
Arriving 15 minutes early provided time to briefly wander the mission church grounds . Unable to figure out where the mission porch was, I asked a park employee sitting inside the museum if she was giving the tour. She wasn’t but called over a volunteer park host. He had been out on the porch exactly at 2:00. Not seeing anyone, he went back inside the museum. I followed him back outside onto the porch. He looked around for more attendees. He gazed expectantly at two women taking pictures with expensive cameras. They ignored him. It turns out I was his only attendee.
Over the next hour and a half, we walked through the church and around the grounds. He talked. I listened and asked tons of questions. Fortunately, he had lots of answers. I’m often amazed at how much human and natural history park hosts know. They are truly a gift for us and the State Park System.
See Wikipedia for more information on Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga.
I had never seen a Christmas Tree made from a Century Plant. This is an appropriate Texas Christmas adaptation for South and West Texas.
The tour includes walking around the Mission church and visiting the workshop.
I had been in the workshop before with a different History Tour Guide. She focused on the looms in the workshop and demonstrated weaving. On this visit, I noticed that the forge was framed in wood.
I had never seen a forge on anything other than a heavy metal frame. I asked my tour guide if this was normal. I was thinking the forge would be hot enough that wood burning might become an issue for the blacksmith. One of the few questions he couldn’t answer. Thinking about it later, I reasoned that one could frame the forge in wood so long as the fire was on top of a thick enough layer of firebrick or some other heavy duty insulator.
After the History Tour, I took time to walk through the Museum. I liked the metal Spanish Conquistador Helmet.
There were a number of well done dioramas depicting life in the mission.
The gratuitous cannon, while small, looked good in the light.
The Mission architecture is beautiful and simple. Clean lines. Thick walls make the window framing especially interesting in the winter morning light.
If ever one needs to learn how to build a masonry or stone arch, this is the perfect explanation on how to do this.
This mission and its companion fort, Presidio La Bahia are part of a larger system of Missions in South Texas. See Five Spanish Mission Churches (blog post) for more information.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!