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Carol Baass Sowa for Today's Catholic Newspaper

Mission’s secret shortcut revealed

Mission’s secret shortcut revealed

Mission San Francisco de la Espada’s unique church door was the result of the original master mason, Antonio Tello, abandoning the project when he fled town on a murder charge in 1744. The friars hoped to someday continue building the church he had designed, but this did not happen and in 1762-63, a new master mason, Joseph Palafox, turned the finished sacristy of Tello’s church into the mission’s final church. This required cutting and adjusting the doorway stones left by Tello for what was to have been a large church to create a smaller doorway, two feet lower and narrower. The stone columns to be used on either side of the doorway were not cut symmetrically, so Palafox took a short-cut and had a section of fired bricks (a specialty of this mission) added to the north column so it would match the other in size. The bricks were then coated with plaster so the column would appear to be stone – at least until the plaster wore off.   

– By Carol Baass Sowa

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