Today we visited the Mission at San Xavier del Bac, a National Historic Landmark, founded as a Catholic mission by Fr. Eusebio Kino in 1692. (He is the same priest that established Tumacacori as a mission in 1691. We visited Tumacacori this past Saturday, December 5th.) Construction of this current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and the mission continues to serve the residents of the San Xavier Reservation. Often called the “white dove of the desert,” the mission is located in the San Xavier Reservation, part of the Tohono O’odham nation, southwest of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona.
The inside of the church, which they are slowly renovating as funds are available, is filled with original statuary and mural paintings. The ceilings are beautiful and when you look up you notice a ledge surrounding the interior filled with lit candles. There is so much to look at it is impossible to take it all in. As we sat there during mass I leaned over and whispered to Tom, we could not have taken the kids here for mass when they were small their heads would have never stopped turning. I had trouble keeping my concentration.
The front entrance as we walked up to the Mission.
Walking through the front door.
Pictures of Sanctuary.
Choir Loft (candles can be seen on ledge)
Two of the several murals.
Close up of the wall.
The above pictures, a few of what we took, of the interior of the mission only show a fraction of what is within the walls. There is just to much to take in during one visit.
Unlike many other historic Spanish missions from this era it is entirely European. There is no Piman influence on the Baroque style, a mix of Byzantine and Moorish architecture. Though desert marterials were used to build the mission. The main building was built by O’odham laborers and is composed of adobe bricks set in lime mortar.The exterior walls are painted white stucco. The mission property includes the main church, mortuary chapel, dormitory, patio, garden, and convent.
The outside court yard.
More of front of Mission.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission in 1872. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity now teach at the school and reside in the convent.
It was a beautiful day and a peaceful place to visit. We will definitely visit here again.
Grotto Hill (not part of the Mission San Xavier del Bac or the Tucson Diocese it is located next to the mission)
One last picture of Mission San Xavier del Bac.
Our visit to Saguaro National Park is on the next page.