Really? A spectacular mission in the middle of the desert? It’s true, and what an amazing discovery for us!
The Mission also known as the “White Dove of the Desert,” was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692 with the building built under the direction of Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Batista Llorenz completed in 1797, mainly with native labor. Recent major restorations have been completed however the overall restoration continues. The Mission is located on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation plus San Xavier is still actively served by Franciscans, and still serves the Native community by which it was built.
We were pleasantly amazed by the multiple tents of Native food and handcrafts for sale. Another nice surprise was the Christening Ceremony where beautiful babies are christened in the Catholic faith, and we were able to get a photo of one little one.
The church is stunning in artifacts and paintings depicting the various saints and sacrifices of those in the Catholic Church. You are able to see a statue of Saint Francis in rest, as well as offering prayers of intercession by Saint Francis.
After touring the church which is open to the public seven days a week from 7am to 5pm, watching a 20 minute video, exploring the museum, and climbing up to the grotto, we had a light lunch and headed back to Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park.
We have toured missions in California and Texas and this ranks right up there with the best of them. More pictures can be found here.