San Xavier Mission del Bac

Just south of Tucson a beautiful Baroque mission stands out from the Arizona desert.

missionFather 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)family pew

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.ceilingI 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.

painted door symmetryAnd 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.Fransciscan rope in design

front of the church

front of the church

St Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier, front and center in the church

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.

Michael & Jo from Australia

Michael & Jo from Australia


No wonder our reservations for going up to Kitt Peak Observatory for the Night Observation Program was cancelled.  They said they weren’t opening the wonder why no Kitt Peak

3 thoughts on “San Xavier Mission del Bac

  1. I was born and raised in S. AZ and presently live in the Verde Valley where I hike with Kwi Johnson. I was born in Bisbee and my parents were married in Tombstone. I lived in Patagonia, Nogales and Tubac. I have enjoyed all your insights over the last year but especially enjoyed revisiting these recent places as I have not physically been there for many years. I have also enjoyed your hometown of Victoria.
    Lila Wright

    • Wow, Lila, you get around too! Glad you stopped in and commented. Thanks.

      We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the SE Arizona area, and blessed that we were able to fit in a few of the local adventures. There is much beauty in any place we go, no matter how different they are.

      One of the girls says she’d like to move to Bisbee, such a quaint town. I think I’d like to live awhile in Tubac and get the kids right into the art culture they are naturals with. The boys still talk about the fun they had in Tombstone. So much fun. You ought to go back soon!! Mind you, the area you live in is gorgeous, too!

  2. Pingback: Week in Review 17/11/13 | Acrobatic Thoughts

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