Sunday, May 1, 2011

The White Dove of the Desert: San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac Mission, known as the White Dove of the Desert, located just south of Tucson, Arizona, is an architectural and historical gem. A mission at this site was founded by Father Eusebio in 1692. Father Kino founded missions in Arizona and Mexico similar to Father Serra in California. The tower on the right was never finished when the current church was built from 1783 - 1797.
The church is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and some people consider it the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture. It is Baroque in style and constructed of stone and brick fired at relatively low temperatures and mortar made from lime. It has been damaged at times over the centuries by fire, earthquake. a lightening strike and vandals.
The church is located on the Tohono O'odham Nation. (I do not like to use the term "reservation.") Tohono O'odham means "desert people" in the O'odham language. I was lucky to visit during an evening celebration when the parishioners carried some of the relics of the church outside during a procession. It was inspirational to seen the spirit and devotion of the people.
There are 24,000 members of the Tohono O'odham Nation, living on four separate lands in Arizona. The were known as the Papago until the 1980's when they changed their official name to the name they used for themselves. Their basketry is exquisite. They are descendants of the ancient Hohokam culture.
Visitors are welcome at San Xavier del Bac. It is only 9 miles from Tucson and receives 200,000 visitors per year. It is owned and maintained by private, non-profit foundation. Its website gives more information about it.

9 comments:

glenda said...

This is such a beautiful church. The picture with all the people was interesting. I've visited quite a few times but has been quite empty.

Memphis MOJO said...

The photos make me want to go there -- good job.

Margaret said...

I love the architecture!

Jacob and Lois Anne said...

These are by far the best photographs I've ever seen of the mission! Fantastic work.

They bring back good memories, too. We were there with Lois Anne's grandmother about 53 years ago when we lived in Scottsdsale.

Looks very much the same now as then!

Thanks for the historical info, also. Much of that I didn't know or had long forgotten!

TheChieftess said...

Lovely!!!

JM said...

Wonderful architecture! Love both night and dusk shots.

Cezar and Léia said...

Thanks so much for sharing your pictures, I'm enchanted by the place and beautiful people there.
The last shot is so impressive!
hugs
Léia

Chasing Sunsets said...

Love this church...Went there last Mother's Day, ate Indian Fry Bread after Mass...big treat! I didn't get to see all of the grounds.I must go back!

Joanne said...

Fabulous, this is definately a must site to visit!

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