Just south of Tucson a beautiful Baroque mission stands out from the Arizona desert.
Father Kino, a Jesuit, visited the area in 1692 and began the foundations on a church that was never built during his time, Mission San Xavier del Bac. He died and was buried in Magdalena, Sonora in 1711, but the basis for a church in this area stems from Father Kino.
The land changed hands over the years, when Jesuits were expelled from New Spain in 1767 and in 1768 Spanish Franciscans arrived. In 1783 with 7,000 pesos borrowed from a rancher, Father Juan Bautista Velderrain began what we see today. “Franciscans introduced lime mortar, kiln-fired brick, masonry vaults, and detail to rival any church far into today’s Mexico.” (flyer)
Artists from central New Spain worked to complete the interior from 1790-1815 while earning double pay because they were under constant threat from Apaches. Funds ran out in 1797. Artists were let go. The east tower was left with bare brick, and no dome or lantern.
The missions parishioners kept working, making changes, dismantling and altering.
Mexico won independence in 1821 and the last of the Franciscans left in 1837. In 1854 thd Gadsden Purchase brought this mission into the USA. In 1866 regular services resumed.
Today’s Franciscan church was built between 1783-1797, a beautiful example of Spanish Colonial architecture. Some of the statues date back to the 1750’s. There are late baroque altars and original paintings adorning the walls.I didn’t know that in Baroque style everything is balanced. So when there would be a functioning door on one side of the room, then there would at least be a painted door on the opposite side to give balance.
And Franciscans are known to wear a rope like belt around their waist. So, as symbolism and identification there is the appearance or style of a rope along the design of the walls like seen in the picture below.
On our tour we met Michael and Jo who are touring the world basically, in fits and starts, from their home near Brisbane, Australia. We hit it off with them, both on somewhat of schedules but we kept talking and talking and talking. So much in common although traveling very differently from one another. Rob is writing/publishing books about their travels.
VIEW FROM OUR KITCHEN: