The San Xavier Mission is the epitome of great Southwestern architecture

San Xavier Indian Reservation Travel Blog

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A view of the mission as you drive into the reservation

The San Xavier Indian Reservation is located in the Sonoran Desert outside of Tucson and is the smaller of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation of the Tohono O’odham Nation. The reservation is home to the Spanish Mission of San Xavier del Bac which 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 labourers. The tribe also operates three casinos, two on the San Xavier reservation namely the Desert Diamond Casino and the Golden Hasan. Matt and I decided to go visit the San Xavier Mission as part of our day’s second trip after the Old Tucson Studios: the drive was short since it is located within Sonora Desert only a few miles away from Tucson Mountain Park.

Me outside the mission on arrival
I have always been fascinated with cultural education, churches and old age architecture. The San Xavier Mission and the Native Indian tribes bring centuries of history all in one place.

The San Xavier Mission is 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. In the year 1692 Father Eusebio Francisco Kino founded the original mission here on this 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.

Mat outside the mission on arrival
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 till today, it is unknown as to why it was never completed, and some say they run out of funds while others contend it was time but the factor of hostility could have also contributed to its incompletion.

But if there is a reason ever given to visit this reservation and the mission, it is to see the amazing details inside the church: awe inspiring frescoes inside with detailed geometric patterns and religious icons, themes and art adorn the whole of the interior in colors that must have been brilliant when seen by the eyes of the original parishioners. The gold still glimmer even in the deem lighting caused by the shadows cast from the dome above and the art on the walls. I stood in awe as I walked through the doors, for the past 6 years of living in the USA, I have never felt the presence of the deity as I did here today at San Xavier, most churches are empty and void of the presence of holiness, I was humbled by the need to pray, I said a prayer for my ailing mother and felt the angels carry the prayer from my mouth to God’s ears.

The exterior of the mission

The mission enjoyed modest prosperity until 1828 when the Mexican government, fresh from its victory over Spain, demanded loyalty from all Spanish priests in within its territory. The Franciscans at San Xavier refused to become their loyal servants, 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. 

 

Africancrab says:
You are welcome Vance, thanks for taking time to read, always nice to know people read what I write :)
Posted on: Mar 24, 2010
vances says:
Great, comprehensive review....thanks!
Posted on: Mar 24, 2010
Africancrab says:
Wow, I did not know that. Perhaps I shall travel to see the Mission in California. Do let me know is you are in Tucson, I shall be happy to take you there.
Posted on: Mar 24, 2010
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A view of the mission as you drive…
A view of the mission as you driv…
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
Mat outside the mission on arrival
Mat outside the mission on arrival
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
The mission
The mission
The school adjacent to the church
The school adjacent to the church
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
The cross on the hilltop
The cross on the hilltop
View of the San Xavier Mission
View of the San Xavier Mission
Matt by the sign
Matt by the sign
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
A view of the church from the art …
A view of the church from the art…
A view from the parking lot
A view from the parking lot
Me outside the mission on arrival
Me outside the mission on arrival
San Xavier Mission/ Church
San Xavier Mission/ Church
San Xavier Mission/ Church
San Xavier Mission/ Church
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
San Xavier Mission/ Church
San Xavier Mission/ Church
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
San Xavier Mission/ Church
San Xavier Mission/ Church
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
San Xavier Mission Road
San Xavier Mission Road
Private Indian Reservation, restri…
Private Indian Reservation, restr…
Tourists
Tourists
The arts center
The arts center
Scriptures painted on animal skin
Scriptures painted on animal skin
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chur…
Inside the San Xavier Mission Chu…
The robes worn by the Franciscan p…
The robes worn by the Franciscan …
The robes worn by the Franciscan p…
The robes worn by the Franciscan …
Cars in the parking lot
Cars in the parking lot
The school by the mission
The school by the mission
Guardian lion at the entrance to t…
Guardian lion at the entrance to …
Guardian lion at the entrance to t…
Guardian lion at the entrance to …
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
The exterior of the mission
This cross was built in 1985 as a …
This cross was built in 1985 as a…
Prayer altar at the top of the hil…
Prayer altar at the top of the hi…
Prayer altar at the top of the hil…
Prayer altar at the top of the hi…
San Xavier Indian Reservation
photo by: Africancrab