Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón Mission

By: Donald E. Chipman

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: August 11, 2020

Following the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in March 1758, efforts to found a new mission for the Lipan Apaches centered on the upper Nueces River. Felipe de Rábago y Terán, the new commander of San Luis de las Amarillas Presidio, selected a site midway between San Sabá and San Juan Bautista. The first mission, founded on January 23, 1762, was named San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz. In the following month Rábago honored the wishes of two Apache chieftains named Turnio and Panocha, who expressed a desire to congregate their people four leagues downstream from mission San Lorenzo. On February 6, 1762, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón Mission, named for its predecessor on the San Gabriel River, was founded on the west bank of the east branch of the Nueces at the site of present Montell in northwestern Uvalde County. Father Diego Jiménez was named missionary, and ten soldiers, detached from Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, made up the guard. Mission Candelaria attracted 400 Apaches within a week of its founding, but the Indians demonstrated no real interest in conversion. Rather, they viewed the site as a refuge from their enemies, the Comanches and their allies, for the Spanish soldiers stationed there would defend them. The attraction waned, however, and in the fifth year the mission was completely devoid of neophytes. When the Marqués de Rubí visited there in July 1767, he was highly critical of the site and saw no hope for converting the Lipans. Spanish presence at El Cañón ended in 1771. A host of problems had plagued the mission from the time of its inception. It was never officially sanctioned by the viceroy in Mexico City and never given adequate financial support. It was set up at the very time France had begun to arrange for the cession of Louisiana to Spain, and thus the threat of French encroachment on the frontiers of New Spain could no longer be used to entice funds from a budget-conscious crown. Furthermore, missions for the Lipans would probably have encountered serious problems under the best of circumstances. There appears to have been no missionary activity at Candelaria after 1767, and the two priests stationed at San Lorenzo were transferred to missions in Sonora in 1771.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century: Studies in Spanish Colonial History and Administration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Hons Coleman Richards, The Establishment of the Candelaria and San Lorenzo Missions on the Upper Nueces (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1936). Curtis D. Tunnell and William W. Newcomb, A Lipan Apache Mission: San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz (Austin: Texas Memorial Museum, 1969).

  • Exploration
  • Missions, Presidios, and Camps
  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Architecture
  • Missions
  • Presidios
  • Pueblos
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Chipman, “Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón Mission,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 11, 2020

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