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Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Mission


Photo by Valerie D. Bates

BLESSED ARE THE GRAPEFRUITS

Mission's heritage includes the padres of the "Cavalry of Christ," horseback-riding priests who spent weeks at a time traveling to ranches across the Rio Grande Valley in order to provide religious services. Dressed in black soutanes (heavy, full-length cassocks) with the Oblate cross hanging from their necks, these priests and brothers of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate must have cut quite a silhouette as they rode through the valley's thorn scrub wilderness of the mid-1800s. No more immune to yellow fever, hurricanes, or lawlessness than anyone else in the region, death, exile, and imprisonment were all part of these circuit riders' reality. Their small chapel, the La Lomita Chapel, washed away in floods but the replacement still stands, testament to the genesis of the Mission we know today. Irrigation and the grapefruit changed their world by the 1900s and, later, tourism brightens Mission's star as one of Texas' favorite winter destinations. The Mission Historical Museum helps preserve this fascinating past and the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta, held in Mission every year since 1932, celebrates its legacy.


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