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Day Trips

Chapel on the Rio Grande was once home to farming friars

By Gerald E. McLeod, Fri., March 1, 2013

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

La Lomita Chapel in Mission inspired the name of the town and soothed the souls of the border region until it passed on to become a historic relic of an era long gone.

Beginning around 1849, the friars of the Oblate order camped near the site of the chapel on the banks of the Rio Grande as they traveled from Brownsville to the isolated ranches scattered around the region. Known as the "Cavalry of Christ," the mission began with five priests from France. The church inherited a large section of land around the campsite when the owner of the ranch died.

For a time, the Oblates operated a profitable ranch and farms on the property. In 1899, the current chapel was built as part of the ranch headquarters. Much of the land was later sold to developers who named the new town Mission, after the chapel, in 1908.

After more than a century, the little chapel still accepts visitors in a city park on a low hill along the river. The adobe walls are cracked and peeling on the outside, but inside it is cool and inviting with Our Lady of Guadalupe looking down on the wooden pews from above the altar.

La Lomita Chapel is three miles south of Route 83 off of FM 1016. The chapel and grounds are open daily from dusk to dawn.

1,126th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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