Spanish processional cross

Carried by the Spanish on their expeditions in the Americas

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Having siezed control of central Mexico in the 1500s, Spain slowly began expanding north in the late 1600s to keep the French from settling lands claimed as New Spain. With support and protection from the crown, Catholic missionaries were at the front of Spanish expansion. They carried processional crosses, like this one from the 1700s, on their expeditions northward.

The Spanish expanded their colony by building missions, presidios (military forts), and settlements along routes and rivers. The Spanish quickly learned American Indian tribes controlled the territories. Missionaries hoped to form Spanish Christian towns by converting American Indians to Catholicism and the Spanish way of life. 

Spaniard General Alonso de León wrote about his first meeting with Caddo saying, “I delivered to the tribal governor a staff with a cross, giving him the title of governor of all of his people... that he should make all his families attend Christian teaching.”

Many American Indians, however, only came to stay for short periods of time when they needed protection from enemy tribes.


See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Spanish processional cross Artifact from San Antonio
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