Mission Concepción ‘Restored by Light’

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Sunset bathed Mission Concepción in fading light Friday evening, and then cast the mission facade in shadow. Children played catch with one another as parents sat on blankets in front of the historic Mission. When the clock struck 8 p.m., the crowd of about 300 people was transported back in time to 1755, the year Mission Concepción was built.

Light from a projector slowly crept on to the church façade. First, the Mission’s limestone turned a stark white, and then geometrical designs in red, green and yellow overlaid the white background, depicting the original fresco painted on the facade of the church 260 years ago.

Attendees wait for the show while lounging on a blanket. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Attendees wait for the show while lounging on a blanket. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Friday night’s “Restored by Light” show is one of the many events happening this weekend to celebrate the recent World Heritage designation of the Spanish colonial Missions and the Alamo. Find a complete list of events here.

The architecture firm Ford, Powell and Carson conducted a study in 2011 to identify the pigments and locations of the original fresco design. Based on that study, the firm recreated the original design to the best of its knowledge.

“We often get the question, ‘Why don’t we rebuild the Missions?’ and the answer is sometimes less than satisfying to people,” said Susan Snow, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park archeologist. “The answer is that we don’t know exactly know what it looked like and we don’t want to recreate something false.”

When Archdiocese Director of the Old Spanish Missions Father David Garcia came to Snow with the idea to recreate the original frescos, Snow had a different plan of action.

Children kept themselves busy before the show. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Children kept themselves busy before the show. Photo by Joan Vinson.

“I said, ‘Father David, I have a better idea. Let’s do a light image and we can light it up at night,'” Snow said. “That way if we made a mistake we can change it and we don’t potentially damage the original fabric.”

Councilmember Rebecca Viagran’s eyes widened Friday night when she examined the crowd in front of the Mission in anticipation of the light show. A smile broadened across her face.

“I love the sense of community tonight – everyone playing on the lawn and sitting out on the front yard of our Mission,” she said.


Related Stories:

Rancho de las Cabras, A Forgotten World Heritage Gem

Remembering Father Margil of Mission San José

It’s Official: New Alamo Master Plan Underway

City Council Unanimously Approves Joint Alamo Master Plan Agreement


One thought on “Mission Concepción ‘Restored by Light’

  1. Finally! S A has reached the big time. Sound and Light at the Missio ns! With the San Antonio symphony and a ballet rendition of the whole “missionary” experience played out in front. Better than Rome, Cairo, or Athens. Maybe they can work in a interlude about the cannibal tribes from the Valley and maybe they can finish with a grilling horse ballet with comanches …ending with an ominous yet hopeful Approach of the Empresarios. ¿Is it the end or a new beginning?!

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