Spanish Missions

Spanish missions played a pivotal role in the European colonization and cultural evolution of what is now Northern Mexico and the American Southwest. Beginning in the seventeenth century and continuing into the early nineteenth century, missionaries from three orders of the Roman Catholic Church (Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican) built hundreds of missions with the intent of converting the indigenous peoples to Christianity and to expand Spanish settlement as part of an effort to claim the valuable resources of the New World. This movement dramatically and forever changed the cultural landscape of the region.