St. Francis Santo going on view for the first time in centuries

The Bullock Museum to showcase newly restored San Antonio mission artifact

OCTOBER 4, 2018 (AUSTIN, TX) — A figure used more than 200 years ago to teach the tenets of Catholicism through storytelling will be on view once more when the Bullock Texas State History Museum's new exhibition Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here opens on December 10. The exquisitely sculpted santo of St. Francis of Assisi was used by Spanish missionaries working in and around San Antonio beginning in the 18th century. 

“Through this figure, you can imagine the catechism lessons that might have been taught by the missionaries to the people who sought alliance, trade, and shelter within the mission walls," said Bullock Museum Director Margaret Koch. "For an exceptional storyteller trying to convey the most important aspects of his faith, the beauty and expressive face of this St. Francis would help bridge language barriers.”

The santo's finely sculpted clay head is estimated to have come from the early 1800s, while the wooden arms and legs and body made of straw-like plant fiber wrapped around a wire armature are believed to have been made in the late 1700s.  

Discovered in the holdings of the National Park Service at the San Antonio Missions, the santo was identified as a representation of St. Francis because its hands and feet bear the signs of stigmata, while the cord around the friar's robe, or habit, had three knots, representing the Franciscan oath of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

With permission from the Park Service and Catholic Diocese of San Antonio, and with funding provided through the Texas State History Museum Foundation, the Bullock Museum had the santo cleaned and restored, and provided with a new habit.

The santo will be on view for the first time since it was used by the missionaries as part of the comprehensive Becoming Texas exhibition, which covers more than 16,000 years of history of the land we now call Texas. Visitors will learn about the men and women who established vast trade networks across the Americas, crafting and exchanging tools, jewelry, weapons and food. They will hear the languages of these people and understand what it took to survive on the land. They will discover European ambitions for colonization, including the failed La Salle expedition, and what life was like in New Spain. 

Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here will open December 10, 2018.  For more information, visit and follow the Bullock Museum on Twitter and Facebook.


#  #  #


The Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin includes three floors of exhibitions, an IMAX® theater, a special-effects theater, café, and Museum Store. The Museum collaborates with more than 700 museums, libraries, archives and individuals to display original historical artifacts and produce exhibitions that illuminate and celebrate Texas history and culture. Named for the state's 38th Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock, the iconic building is at 1800 N. Congress Avenue. For more, visit or call (512) 936-8746.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a division of the Texas State Preservation Board. Additional support for educational programming provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.

Becoming Texas exhibition

This press release is part of the Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here Media Kit

In December 2018, the Bullock Texas State History Museum will unveil the state's most comprehensive look at more than 16,000 years of Texas History with the permanent exhibition Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here. View Media Kit