Don Pedro Romero de Terreros was probably trying to assuage his grief and guilt.
After all, it was his money that paid for it. He had done it to show his gratitude to God for making his mines the biggest silver producers in Mexico, and making him a very wealthy man.
So Don Pedro had financed the mission in that back water province known as Tejas. The souls of the savages would be saved, God would be glorified, and who knew? Maybe there was silver to be mined.
His cousin, Father Alonso de Terreros, would be head of the mission. There was nothing unseemly in that. Mutual obligation and expressions of gratitude where how things worked.
In 1757 Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá was built on the San Saba River in what is now Menard County, about eighty miles West-Northwest of Austin.
It consisted of a church that was really more of a pole barn and several jacals surrounded by a wooden palisade. The fathers of the mission made it known that they intended to convert the Lipan Apache to Christianity.
That was a problem, because the Apache's had no friends among the other tribes in the area.
On the morning of March 16, 1758, the mission was attacked and destroyed by two thousand Comanche, Wichita and Caddo warriors. The only mission in the Americas ever completely destroyed by natives.
Father Alonso was killed, shot repeatedly with muskets provided by the meddlesome French, his head nearly severed with a butcher knife.
Which brings us back to Don Pedro's guilt and grief. What was an eighteenth century Mexican silver magnate to do? Commemorate the martyrdom of Father Alonso and his com-padres with a great work of art!
Don Pedro commissioned Jose de Paez (1720-1790) to paint a mural entitled , "The Destruction of Mission San Sabá in the Province of Texas and the Martyrdom of the Fathers Alonso de Terreros and Jose Santiesteban."
It is the first painting by a professional artist to depict Texas.
Though the artist never set foot here, he had the accounts and descriptions of several eyewitnesses to go by. Archaeological explorations have shown it to be quite accurate.
The mural is still owned by the Terreros family in Mexico to this day. In the early 90s they tried to sell it in the US, but the Mexican government nixed the deal, declaring it a national treasure.
Maybe the Mexican government is trying to hold on to a piece of Texas, even if it is just a picture.