Entertainment Magazine: Tucson: Tucson History: San Xavier del Bac Mission

The San Xavier Mission - the "White Dove of the Desert"

By Danielle Crounse

In the vast desert on an Indian reservation just nine miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona, one would not expect to find a beautiful church. The San Xavier del Bac Mission.

Following the signs from the highway directs you toward Mission San Xavier (pronounced as "hauv-e-air") del Bac, you approach this majestic "White Dove of the Desert" (as it is affectionately called). It is truly an awesome experience. The sheer size and bright color against a blue sky and the tan colors of the desert make San Xavier Mission a striking sight.

The San Xavier del Bac Mission was built between 1783 and 1797 by the Tohono O'odham tribe, under the direction of Spanish Franciscans. The mission opened Tucson's first public school in Nov. 7, 1864. The Mission was created to serve the needs of the local community, the village of Wa:k (San Xavier District) on the Tohono O'odham reservation, southwest of Tucson, Arizona.

This web site posted the first web pages about the Mission published on the Internet in 1996 and is visited by thousands of people a month from all over the world. Enjoy our tour and history of the San Xavier Mission.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is located southwest of Tucson, Arizona. This Spanish mission. founded in 1692 is commonly known by the nicknames "White Dove of the Desert" and the "Sistine Chapel of America."

The Church sits on 14 acres deeded to the Roman Catholic diocese of Tucson from an original grant signed in 1910 by President William Taft.

San Xavier Mission del Bac in Tucson, Arizona 1902

Photo above: San Xavier del Bac from "Tucson, Arizona" 1902.

Resconstruction of the San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission del Bac in Tucson, ArizonaThe new scaffolding will be in place for the next three years while the San Xavier Mission continues it restoration. Restoration work is paid with funds raised by Patronato San Xavier, a local non profit group. The restoration of the church sanctuary began in 1992 and was finished in 1997.

To make a donation towards the restoration of the mission visit Patronato San Xavier. Patronato San Xavier is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), and donations to San Xavier's preservation are fully tax deductible.

San Xavier Museum and Gift Shop

Therfe is a museum at the Mission that explains more about this history with artifacts on display. Listen to a 20 minute video which talks about the history of the Mission and its restoration.

Walk through the museum and look at the artifacts to get a sense of the history and the way people lived at the Mission. The San Xavier del Bac museum is free and open to the public. There are some donation boxes to help  provide for its upkeep. The museums hours are: 8:30am - 4:30pm daily.

The San Xavier Mission Gift shop with various items about the Mission San Xavier from t-shirts to authentic Tohono O'odham baskets made right here on the reservation. The gift shops hours are from 8:00am - 5:00pm daily (holiday hours may vary).

San Xavier Mission

Tucson History


From "The mission of San Xavier del Bac: an historical guide." The Records were discovered by Professor H. E. Bolton, in the City of Mexico, about twelve years ago and published in 1919. 1692 Father Kino records in detail in his Journal that he visited Bac^s for the first time in this year. Read the excerpts from "The mission of San Xavier del Bac: an historical guide"

"Tucson, Arizona" 1902, including the history of San Xavier del Bac and early Tucson accounts.

The Lost Santa Catalina Mission

More articles and storeies about Tucson's founding and history.

Mission San Xavier del Bac Tucson, Arizona

1950 W. San Xavier Road
Tucson, Arizona 85746-7409

San Xavier del Bac Mission
Schedule of Masses, Events and Mission News

San Xavier Mission School
Home of the Roadrunners

The San Xavier Mission is located west of Interstate I-19, about 6 miles south of I-19 and I-10 interchange.

Open everyday: 8am-5pm
Sunday Masses Summer 2010 Schedule is: 7:00, 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 am.

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Recommended Books About San Xavier Mission can be purchased from Amazon.com:

coverSan Xavier: The Spirit Endures by Kathleen Walker; Paperback

coverFiction: The Gold of San Xavier is a story of greed, murder, and love set in the 200-year-old Spanish colonial church near Tucson, Ariz. By Bruce Itule; HC

coverSan Xavier Del Bac: An Artist's Portfolio

By Sharon Wright Pettus; Hardcover. One of the finest remaining examples of Spanish colonial architecture and an active Tohono O'odham church since 1692, San Xavier has often been admired and photographed, but never with richer results than the innovative artistry of Sharon Wright Pettus. With well-chosen words and exquisite pictures, Pettus takes the reader on a kind of guided tour to the recently restored treasures of Mission San Xavier. Using a technique of pastel coloring on photographic transfers that makes her photographs resemble miniature Impressionist paintings, she creates an album of memorable images. These images are both reverent and charming, ancient and fresh, traditional and sophisticated. To complete the sense of place, Pettus also includes a brief commentary on each enchanting image, an informative introduction, a map, a floor plan, and a short bibliography. San Xavier Del Back: An Artist's Portfolio will fascinate anyone with an interest in southwest mission history, art, and architecture. -- Midwest Book Review

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