After the conquest of Mexico by Hern n Cort's in the sixteenth century, conquistadors and explorers poured into the territory of Nueva Espa a. The Franciscans followed in their wake but carved a different path through a harsh and often violent landscape. That heritage can still be found across Texas, behind weathered stone ruins and in the pews of ornate, immaculately maintained naves. From early structures in El Paso to later woodland sanctuaries in East Texas, these missions anchored communities and, in many cases, still serve them today. Author Byron Browne reconnoiters these iconic landmarks and their lasting legacy.