Today we traveled the same route that many many explorers and gold seekers traveled a century ago. We, of course, were in a car driving the 400 miles in the opposite direction.
We got an early start and stopped in Ozano, TX for lunch at a Subway (seen one you've seen them all - same menu, same wall paper and same good low fat fast food). We made good time and arrived about 3:30pm. After a short nap, I was ready to begin our exploration of the city of the Alamo.
San Antonio is known for its famous "River Walk" (Paseo Del Rio) which runs through the heart of the business district a few steps below the city streets. Tonight it was teaming with life!
We took the River Walk on our way to San Fernando Cathedral to catch the 5:30pm bilingual Mariachi Mass. What a treat that was - good music, good community, good homily - all together good liturgy! This church in the heart of the city is also the "heart of the city". The civic literature given to visitors refers to the church as the soul of the city. I can see why.
Colonists sent from the Canary Islands by King Philip of Spain arrived in San Antonio in 1731 and began building the church, the oldest parish in Texas. It has been renovated and remodelled several times over the centuries, but it remains a marvelous piece of architecture which proudly proclaims our Catholic faith.
Orginaly next to the altar, and now in its foyer, are the remains of several famous people who lost their lives in the battle of the Alamo. A plaque on the coffin bearing these remains lists: Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis - remember them??? Amazing!
The celebration was wonderful and it came as no surprise when, at the sign of peace, twelve ushers came walking down the center aisle and joined hands with the people of each side of the church while the Mariachis sang an upbeat song in their own great style.
The assembly was about half visitors and the regulars made us feel so welcome. It was an experience that I hope all visitors to our churches feel when they travel away from their home communities.
After mass we walked back to the River Walk and found a restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal and the crowds of folks and water taxis passed by filled with happy tourists. The side walks wound their around the tree lined paths which were illuminated by all sorts of twinkling multicolored lights. It was quite magical. Pretty soon it was 10pm and we were ready to call it a day.
Tomorrow: The Alamo!