San Xavier Del Bac Mission

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San Xavier Indian Reservation, United States

San Xavier Del Bac Mission San Xavier Indian Reservation Reviews

Africancrab Africanc…
777 reviews
The Epitome of great Southwestern Architecture Apr 14, 2010
The Spanish Mission of San Xavier Del Bac was built in between 1783 and 1797. It is a National Historic Landmark, and has been in continuous use for over 200 years. It was built by Tohono O'odham laborers. The epitome of great southwestern architecture and a relic from a time when pioneers exploring the American interior came from the South instead of the East. But if there is a reason ever given to visit the mission, it is to see the amazing details inside the church. Adorned inside with awe inspiring frescoes and detailed geometric patterns and religious icons, themes and art adorn the whole of the interior in colors that must have been brilliant when seen with the eyes of the original parishioners. The gold still glimmers even in the deem lighting caused by the shadows cast from the dome above and the art on the walls. I was in awe as I walked through the doors. One can feel the presence of the deity inside San Xavier like never before. Most churches are empty and void of the presence of holiness, I was humbled by the need to pray, and the feeling of conviction. I said a prayer for my ailing mother and felt the angels carry the prayer from my mouth to God’s ears.

The History:

In the year 1692 Father Eusebio Francisco Kino founded the original mission on the Tohono O'Odham reservation during his travels through the wilderness of old California. He founded a number of other missions over the years, and the San Xavier mission was established at the place where the underground Santa Cruz river comes to the surface. As with all missions of the American southwest, a town grew around it as people searched for faith, prosperity, and protection from Indian attacks. One of those attacks destroyed the mission, and a new one had to be erected in 1783 about two miles south of the original foundation. The church’s south tower was never completed and remains unfinished even today. It is unknown why the church was never completed, some say they run out of funds while others contend it was time. However the factor of hostility could have also contributed to it not being completed.

The mission enjoyed modest prosperity until 1828 when the Mexican government, fresh from its victory over Spain, demanded loyalty from all Spanish priests in its territory. The Franciscans at San Xavier refused loyalty to Mexico, and returned to Span in 1831 while the new Mexican government confiscated the land and buildings. For more than 25 years the church was vacant, and travelers crossing the wasteland of Mexico bound for the promise of wealth in California, stopped here to rest in the shade and etch their names on the interior walls. The mission came back to life in 1863 when the Diocese of Santa Fe was given responsibility for the new territory of Arizona. Repairs were made and a priest was once again installed at San Xavier.


Today the mission serves as a pilgrim destinations for Catholics local and world wide. It also serves as an attraction for those who appreciate architecture, art, statutes etc.
Me on arrival
The Church
A view of the church from the entr…
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huddleston huddlest…
43 reviews
Beautiful mission in the Arizona desert Apr 18, 2010
Just outside of Tucson, Arizona, lies the splendid Spanish Mission of San Xavier del Bac. The mission was built between 1783 and 1797 and it is now a National Historic Landmark.

The mission is quite beautiful. The architecture is very detailed and the grounds are tranquil and peaceful. The Moorish style facade is detailed, yet simple, elegant, and ornate. The interior, including the altar, naves, and apse, is spectacular. There is a great deal of detail, and the low light makes everything beautifully gloomy.

I visited the mission back in 2006. I was in Tucson for baseball tournaments and Spring Training. We wanted to drive to the US Mexico border, and do some shopping in the little border town of Nogales. On our way, we stopped by to see the mission. I am not a religious person, but I was truly inspired by the calm and beauty. It is a great place to photograph as well. Even Ansel Adams photographed the mission. Although part of the exterior was undergoing refurbishment which was a bit of a bummer. I would love to go back one day at dusk or dawn to photograph the beautiful stone in the morning or evening light!

There is an overpriced gift shop and (which I found to be extra tacky) and a museum that is semi-informative. You can also light a candle for $3. It is a working church, so special events and mass are held inside.

It is free to see the mission!!
The front of the mission
The courtyard of the mission
Amazing architecture at the mission
So peacful at the Mission

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San Xavier Indian Reservation Map
San Xavier Indian Reservation
photo by: Africancrab