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Texas in Review - Mission at Ysleta (1957)
Texas Historical Commission
  • Map
  • Highlights
    Mission at Ysleta, southeast of El Paso, established 1682
    Bell brought from Mexico
    Fire damaged mission, 1907
    Church furnishings
    seat of a Franciscan Mission, secular priests and Jesuits
    Ysleta meaning
  • Transcript
    The Mission, which lies a few miles southeast of El Paso, was established in 1682 as a refuge for the ancient Tigua Indians, whose history is embodied in the little church. 
    What tales could be told by the old bell that chimes from the tower? 
    Older than the mission itself, the silver and copper bell was brought from Mexico. 
    Originally rung by the early Franciscans, today, Jesuit Father Martinez calls his parishioners to worship with the bell, as it rings and fills the heat-trapped silence.
    A fire damaged the mission in 1907, and while very little was saved of the early, beautiful ornaments, the church is again rich in valuable works of art.
    Ancient statues, painted madonnas, gold and silver vessels are here. 
    Important not only to the worshippers, but to the visitor who is searching for beauty that is of more than routine interest. 
    A church historian could trace the story of Ysleta by the contributions that line the walls and recesses of the chapel. 
    When the governing bishop was located in Durango, Mexico, Ysleta was the seat of a Franciscan mission, then came the administration of the secular priests.
    In 1881 the Jesuits took over and they remain in authority. 
    Today, football and other sports are played on the same grounds where 300 years ago the Tigua Indian parched his corn and listened to the priests tell of a forgiving God. 
    To the first who sought refuge here, the activities of today's Latin American parishioner may seem strange, but Father Martinez knows that whereas food for the spirit does not change like the seasons, the same cannot be said of the customs and pursuits of his young people. 
    Ysleta means little island, and when the bells of Ysleta ring through the valley carved by the Rio Grande it is easy to accept this meaning
    For here is an island of faith and hope, a quiet, a coolness in the shimmering sun, a Christian stronghold in the El Paso valley, where the doors are always open to all who would enter.