Mission San Juan Bautista

Founded: 1699

Known As: The Mother of the Texas Missions

Status:  Archaeological site / visible ruins

Location:  Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico

Google Map

Mission Ruins, Guerrero
Photo: Christopher Talbot


Mission San Juan Bautista is not actually in Texas! However, it was the gateway for the development of the Texas mission system. It served as the launching point for missionary expeditions, and a source of supplies for the missions themselves.

It was founded on St. John’s Day, June 24, 1699, on the Río de Sabinas, about 25 miles north of Lampazos, Nuevo León, Mexico. On January 1, 1700, it was relocated to Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico.

san-bernadino-church-at-san-juan-bautistaThe new site was just a few miles from the Rio Grande, and was located near river crossings that allowed it to serve as a way station and gateway into Texas.

The settlement quickly expanded to include three missions: San Juan Bautista, San Francisco Solano, and San Bernardo (pictured here). The missions were situated in a triangular pattern around the water supplies, and were soon joined by a presidio, a civilian settlement (a pueblo), and ranches and stockyards that provided supplies for the Texas missions. The Presidio de San Juan Bautista provided escorts for travelers and supply trains to Texas, and also provided soldiers to fight hostile Indians.

The Guerrero complex became an important center of military and economic power in New Spain, and was the “Gateway to Spanish Texas.”

There is also a Mission San Juan Bautista in the California mission system.