Mission San Xavier

Look at the sky!  Blue!  Arizona in March is wonderful!

This is the church that Frank Lloyd Wright dubbed the White Dove of the Desert.  We toured!

Here’s the rocky thing next to the church with the cross on top.  I know it has a name, I just can’t get the internet to cough it up right now.

Details of the sculptures on the front.  

The mission was founded by Jesuit missionary Father Kino (who you might remember being mentioned in this post).  It was the northern-most mission he established.   Father Kino gets good press, so I thought I would include this link as an alternate perspective.

In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from “New Spain” and the mission was abandoned.  The Franciscans came to fill the void and began construction of the church that we see today.

The four flags that have flown over the mission.  Spain, Mexico, the United States and the Tohono O’odham Nation.  The mission is a working parish for the Tohono O’odham people.

I loved this detail.

I also loved this photo, of tourists standing by the explanation of the Man in the Maze.

The Man in the Maze is part of Tohono O’odham culture.  The man is born, which is where he is at the top of the maze. He travels through the maze (life) encountering many turns and changes.  On the way he acquires knowledge, strength and understanding. Near the end he retreats to a small corner and then reaches the dark center of death and eternal life.

Work was happening on the tower.  The Patronato San Xavier is a group that has been working since 1978 to preserve the church.  They are also the group that gives the tours.

And here’s my own self with the Man in the Maze.

Detail of ceiling.

Detail on wall.

More front-of-church

Here’s a little mouse.  There is a cat located on the other side.  Legend says that if the cat catches the mouse, the tower will fall.

Not a detail of the church, but I was flummoxed by this “est. 1959” business.  Hawaii was around long before that.

Interior!  Nearly everything was painted, rather than tiled, due to lack of funds.

For symmetrical purposes this door was painted.  Also the repeating box motif would  have been tile in a more prosperous church.
The mission is a pilgrimage site.  People can pray to Saint Francis for intersession.

Painted mural.  Note the painted frame.

The last supper scene had a creepy little devil’s head in the corner

History of the mission that takes into account the differing cultures. 

A nice illustration of the Piman groups annual cycle.

A map of the Father Kino missions.

Milagros left with Saint Francis, as well as other items.

What’s left of the termite-eaten Jesus who used to be on the wooden cross in the church.

An illustration of the Man in the Maze creeping into standard Catholic items.

Courtyard.  It was a parking lot at one time.

This sign cracks me up.  I’m the person who would read it and ask, “Which way is East?”

Candles stacked and ready for selling.

Across the way was an area of shops.  I loved this advertisement.Overall, a really great tour.  I was surprised to learn it was our tour guide’s first tour.

7 thoughts on “Mission San Xavier”

  1. The sky is so so blue. Thanks for the alternate “hidden history” of the mission. Nice to have that perspective. It was fun to “tour with you” on the day and again now!

  2. Another great post! This is selling me even more on a Tucson visit. Although I suspect I’d have to go with someone other than my husband, who would never step foot in a religious building. Personally, I love religious buildings because they tend to have phenomenal architecture. At least, the ones pre-1960s or so do. St. Francis happens to be my favorite saint (no, really) so I especially love this post.

    Re: Hawaii shirt. It became a state in 1959, so I suspect that is what it’s referring to. But honestly, them’s fightin’ words. I wouldn’t be caught DEAD in that shirt in Hawaii. It’s a very touchy subject there.

    1. Thanks. I really liked touring this place. Dan can sit in the parking lot, or eat fry bread at each of the many vendors who set up outside the Mission. 🙂

      I know Hawaii became a state in 1959, but it’s not like it sprung from Zeus’ head at that point. Sheesh.

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