Today in Catholic History – The beginnings of San Antonio

On 13 June 1691, an expedition of Spanish missionaries and explorers including Fr. Damian Massanet and Domingo Teran de los Rios, the leader of the expedition, arrived at the river and Payaya village which they would name “San Antonio” in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua whose feast is celebrated on this day.

Fr. Massenet wrote:

On this day, there were so many buffaloes that the horses stampeded and 40 head ran away. These were collected with the rest of the horses by hard work on the part of the soldiers. We found at this place the rancheria of the Indians of the Payaya nation. This is a very large nation and the country where they live is very fine. I called this place San Antonio de Padua, because it was his day. In the language of the Indians it is called Yanaguana [The Clean Water]….I ordered a large cross set up [on the 14th], and in front of it built an arbor of cottonwood trees, where the altar was placed. All the priests said mass…Then I distributed among them rosaries, pocket knives, cutlery, beads and tobacco. I gave a horse to the captain [the Payaya chief].

The first mission at San Antonio would not be established until 1718. This is the date usually understood as the founding of the city.

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