Mission Corpus Christi de la Ysleta

Founded: 1682

Original Name: La Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur

Status:  Active Catholic Church

Location:  131 S Zaragoza Rd, El Paso, TX 79907

Google Map

Photo by James Reyes.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The Ysleta Mission is recognized as the oldest continuously operated parish in the State of Texas.

The Franciscans and the Tigua (Tiwa) Indians who founded the mission were fleeing from the Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico, where  Indians had risen up against the harsh and inflexible Spanish rule.  They founded the mission in 1682.  It was initially named  La Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur in honor of the Tigua’s patron saint, Saint Anthony.  In 1693, the church was renamed Corpus Christi de los Tiguas de Ysleta by Governor Diego de Vargas under the authority of King Charles II of Spain.

The site of the mission was poorly chosen.  The nearby Rio Grand flooded and changed course frequently.  The adobe structures of the mission were severely damaged or swept away several times in the 1740s, 1829, and in the 1850s.

In 1897 the adobe church was remodeled to its current appearance, including its distinctive “onion dome.” A fire in 1907, caused by chemicals stored in the bell tower to repel bats, resulted in massive damage to the building. The 1897 bell tower and the original façade of the church collapsed.  The church was rebuilt in 1908 with a new arched entry door, and remains essentially unchanged since that time.