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Saturday, September 17, 2011

El Paso Mission Trail

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

From September 15 - 18, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) held its meeting in El Paso, Texas, to hold its regular meeting as well as a consultation on immigration. The CTCR is divided up into three committees. I sit on committee 1 for church relations. Committee 1 visited the El Paso Mission Trail and saw three churches.

Mission Trail, El Paso, Texas
Mission Trail runs from Ysleta to Socorro to San Elizario and is about nine miles long. It is a segment of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior), which was the trail that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Along this route, are missions, churches, forts. It is the oldest road in the Americas and was once the longest.

Presidio Chapel San Elizario
Since we drove out of El Paso, the first mission we saw was the Presidio Chapel San Elizario. This was original built in 1684. In 1789, the French renamed it after San Elcear, the French patron of soliders. The settlement that grew up around the church became known as San Elizario.

Sanctuary of San Elizario
Cherub holding holy water at San Elizario
Note that the cherub has painted toe nails. I don't remember that as a description found in the Bible.

Cherub's painted toes at San Elizario

Presidio Chapel San Elizario
From Presidio Chapel San Elizario, we traveled along Mission Trail to Mission Socorro. Socorro means "help," and originally served the Piro Indians who fled during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The church was founded October 13, 1680, but did not a permanent mission until 1691, when it had 60 Piro Indian families and 15 Spanish families.

Mission Socorro
Mission Socorro has an interior buit from carved cottonwood and cypress. The church is considered one of the best examples of Indian and Spanish design.

Sanctuary of Mission Socorro
The altar area was rather elaborate, or appears so. Apparently, it is wood painted to seem like gold.

Chancel of Mission Socorro
An enlargement of the Lord's Supper.

Interestingly, many of these churches use electric candles.

Note the sign saying these are electric candles
A few of the professors from Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne and Concordia Seminary St. Louis.

Roland Ziegler, Larry Rast, Tom Egger, Jeff Oschwald
After Mission Socorro, we traveled to Mission Ysleta.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is part of the Ysleta Mission. It is the oldest continuously active parish in the state of Texas.
Bell from Ysleta Mission
The first Mass was held 12 October 1680 at Ysleta. This areas was prone to frequent flooding. As a result the church had to be rebuilt several times, most recently in 1851.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel served the Tigua Indians. The Tigua's patron saint is San Antonio de Padua. The feast is celebrated on June 13 with traditional dances.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), also known as blessed Catherine, was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior in New York. She is the patron of the environment and ecology. She suffering the loss of her mother and the disfigurement of her face to small pox at the age of four. She was baptized as a teenager and later died at the age of 24 with her last recorded words, "Jesus, I love you." She is the first Native American to be "blessed."

Chancel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Roland Ziegler and I got our photo taken.
Al Collver and Roland Ziegler
The journey along El Paso's Mission Trail was very educational. Learned much about the mission work of the 17th and 18th century Americas.

View from the Hotel


  1. I've been to Ysleta as well. Probably the most noteworthy aspect of that trip was getting lost on my run from Ysleta - that added on a mile or two to the total mileage.

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