I was last in Tucson many years ago. One of our stops back then was the San Xavier Mission. The mission was under renovation at that time so we did not get to see inside. As I had some time before I checked in at the guest ranch, I …

decided to make a stop to see the mission once again.

I was not disappointed. The mission was completely open and along with a crowd of other folks, I was able to see the inside as well as wander around outside.

Details from Wikipedia:

Mission San Xavier del Bac (Spanish: La Misión de San Xavier del Bac) is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles (16 km) south of downtown Tucson, Arizona, on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation. The mission was founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino in the center of a centuries-old settlement of the Sobaipuri O’odham, a branch of the Akimel or River O’odham located along the banks of the Santa Cruz River. The mission was named for Francis Xavier, a Christian missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order) in Europe. The original church was built to the north of the present Franciscan church. This northern church or churches served the mission until it was razed during an Apache raid in 1770.

The mission that survives today was built between 1783 and 1797, which makes it the oldest European structure in Arizona. Labor was provided by the O’odham. An outstanding example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States, the Mission San Xavier del Bac hosts some 200,000 visitors each year. It is a well-known pilgrimage site, with thousands visiting each year on foot and on horseback, some among ceremonial cavalcades or cabalgatas.

The site is also known in the O’odham language as “goes in” or “comes in”, meaning “where the water goes in”, as the water in the Santa Cruz River came up to the surface a few miles south of Martinez Hill and then submerged again near Los Reales Wash. The Santa Cruz River that used to run year-round in this section was once critical to the community’s survival, but now runs only part of the year.

San Xavier Mission

There were many people inside taking in the beauty of the church. I found a spot in the center of the pews and pointed my camera with a wide-angle lens up to capture the dome, sculptures, and paintings.

There were so many people making their way around the floor that it was impossible to get any images at floor level!

I decided to go outside and found a large path leading up an adjacent hill. There is a large shrine on one side and a large cross on the top. There is a wide trail that circumvents the hill. Since this is a pilgrimage site, I would assume that this trail is used by the pilgrims.

Many of the devout were purchasing candles that they lit and left with a prayer for a loved one.

The mission does not charge for admission so in addition to the candles they also have a small gift shop that sells religious items as well as locally crafted items.

I took one last view of this iconic mission before I headed back to my car.

When I have thought of Tucson for the last few years this ornate mission has always come to mind. Now that picture is even more firmly in my mind’s eye!

If you are in the Tucson area I highly recommend a visit to this mission. For more details on the history and current events please visit the San Xavier Mission website.

For larger versions of these and additional images of San Xavier Mission please visit my Gallery.

From the mission I headed back through Tucson to my home for the next several days, Tanque Verde Guest Ranch! More on this on my next blog post.

That is all for now.


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