Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The White Dove Of The Desert

Mission San Xavier del Bac is located south of downtown Tucson, on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation.  And today it was part of Ed's Tour of Tucson. 

I visited the Mission thirty years ago when we first came to Tucson - that seems to be the theme lately, me visiting attractions I haven't seen in decades - but I haven't been to it since they did the big interior
The Mission was founded in 1692 by Jesuit missionary, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino.  He documented that he was the first non-Indian to visit the village of Wa:k, or "Bac".  This building was built between  1783 and 1797 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
It is still actively served by Franciscans and holds services for the Native community and anyone else wishing to attend.  This is a partial photo of the altar and ceiling above. 
The artwork inside the church was painted by at least three different artists and is considered to be the finest example of Spanish mission architecture in the United States. 

The Mission underwent an extensive interior restoration between 1992 and 1997.  They brought Italians over from Italy.  Of course they did.  Look at the ornate artwork and the vibrant colors.
Oh, and this thing.  On the altar.  A little creepy.
Another look at the interior d├ęcor.  The walls are white plaster and the painting is done directly on them.  There are examples of Spanish and Native American motifs in the artwork.
This is looking down the center of the church from the altar, toward the front door.  When it's really hot (which is always to me), coming through that door literally takes you into a sanctuary, providing a delightful respite from the oppressive desert heat. 
Below is a wooden statue of Saint Francis, and it's extremely important to the Mission and the pilgrims who visit it.  Pinned to his robe are what's called milagros (miracles, in Spanish) - small tokens in the shape of hearts, arms, legs, eyes, and other body parts, in addition to photos of people, notes - representing what needs to be prayed for. 

In the museum display area of the Mission, milagros are described as “symbols of physical and mental pain and joy placed with images of saints to relay messages to God.”

If you can't make it to the Mission to leave your own milagro, the power of the internet allows you to have a prayer request placed with the Saint.  Fill it out 
Thousands of pilgrims visit the mission each year.  It's a place of importance to many people's beliefs and faith. 

While sitting in the church I said to Ed that I can see how people weary from the heat, the dust, their journey, would come upon this pristine white vision in the middle of the desert and know that inside, they'd find kind and loving people who would offer whatever help they may need.
It's exactly what a place like this should represent - a safe haven. 

Revisiting the Mission was nice and I'm glad we made time for it.  We even took time to watch a video narrated by Tucson native, Linda Ronstadt, which provided more detail on the Mission's restoration.

You can see the Mission in the distance from Interstate-19, on the way from Tucson heading south to Mexico.  If you have a chance, make a quick stop.  It really is quite a sight.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Beautiful Listen
2011: The Music Of The Night
2010: There’s No Better Place On Earth
2009: Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
2008: Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
2007: At Least He’s Up Front About It
2006: Aten HUT!!
2005: Be The Player


mick said...

Beautiful. The sky has the most ama zing blue colour, and the church is gorgeous.

Gil said...

Too beautiful for any words that I can think of!!