When El Pasoans walk, they celebrate the endurance of the Franciscan friars and the Native Americans who long ago traversed on foot the vast Southwestern landscape. Fray García founded Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission at the Pass of the North in 1659 (El Paso, Texas and C. Juarez, Chihuahua). The little community became an important settlement on the Camino Real de Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior) that linked Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Fray García Monument, the first statue in the XII Travelers series, was created by sculptor John Sherrill Houser and was dedicated in 1996. Fray García holds the lintel beam for the Guadalupe Mission and beckons to the region's Manso and Suma Indians to join him in building the construction of the Guadalupe Mission at the Pass of the North, which today is the historical treasure in downtown Cd. Juarez, El Paso's sister city. The beam is inscribed with the name of the mission and the year of its founding, 1659. Spanish and Indian craftsmen carved the ceiling beams with floral designs, which are resplendent today. At Fray García's feet is an Indian basket laden with the Mission Grape. He introduced Christianity and European agriculture and livestock to the region. The Guadlupe medallion hangs from his neck, and at his waist are the Franciscan crucifix and rosary. The bronze maquette was permanently installed at the entrance of the old mission, Nuestra Señora de Guadalup that was built by Fray García and still stands in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
Monument to Civic Involvement
The XII Travelers board is grateful to the City of El Paso and to the many generous donors, including the El Paso Community Foundation and the Robert E. and Evelyn Mckee Foundation that assisted the creation of the Fray García Monument to enhance the quality of life of our community and to celebrate its rich history.
The 14 foot high bronze is more than twice a person's height and eight times the volume.
Hollow bronze (like a chocolate Easter bunny), with quarter-inch-thick bronze walls and steel reinforcement, and weighs 1-1/2 tons.
The monument was enlarged in a year from the 31-inch high model to the 14-foot high enlargement and took 5 months to cast in bronze.
The statue's molten bronze, when poured, was hotter than lava -2,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
The mission grapes are about the size of goose eggs.
García's rosary has 80 beads, each about the size of a golf ball.
Fray García's nose is 5-inches long.
Franciscan sandals are size 25EEEE.
The Crucifix design is from a 16th century small Franciscan gold cross salvaged from a Caribbean shipwreck.
Mexico's Zapotec President: Developing Democracy to the South (1864 - 1865)
Susan Shelby Magoffin
Down the Santa Fe Trail: The Santa Fe / Chihuahua Trail (1821 - 1880)
Don Juan de Oñate
The Colonizer: The Spanish Settlement of the Southwest (1598 - 1680)
Fray García de San Francisco
Founder of the Pass of the North: The Building of the Missions (1598 - 1740)
The XII Travlers Memorial of the Southwest is an integrated sculpture tour through history comprising of twelve separate (bronze, over life-size) monuments. The memorial includes individuals, groupings, equestrians that serve as metaphors for histrical movements and periods.