Mission San Francisco de la Espada
Of the five missions, Mission Espada seems the one most persistent in aiming the thoughts of the visitor back toward its past. As you step through the entrance gate in the compound wall, you pass open doorways to the right and left that lead into rooms open to the sky. The scattered remains of walls and buildings urge you to think of the many people who once lived their lives here.
The mission’s beautiful and intimate little church was itself once in ruins and owes its continued existence to the life-long dedication of a French priest, Father Francis Bouchu. Father Bouchu was 29 when he arrived in 1858 and soon set to work almost single-handedly raising the collapsed side walls and roof.
The most recent renovation work at Mission Espada was completed just a few years ago. Despite periods of decline, this little mission has been the beneficiary of a great deal of loving care through the centuries. As its original builders slip further into the past, the mission’s existence reminds us of everything they, and others like them, achieved.