White Dove of the Desert – San Xavier del Bac Mission, Arizona

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Traveling in Arizona, somewhere in the middle of the desert, a passenger can suddenly see an unreal, dreamy vision: Among countless cactuses, wide plains covered with a dust and sparse grass, two high white domes rises to the sky.

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Beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission

That is the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac, a church also known as the “White Dove of the Desert.” It is Arizona’s secret jewel, a historic Spanish Catholic church located about 10 miles (16 km) south of downtown Tucson on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation.

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The path to the church San Xavier del Bac Mission

The Mission was founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino in the center of a centuries-old Indian settlement of the Tohono O’odham (formerly known as Papago), located along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.

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Cactuses – typical vegetation of Arizona 

The church was named by St. Francis Xavier, a Christian missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order) in Europe. It is the oldest European structure in Arizona.

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The regular service in San Xavier del Bac Mission had just begun

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As soon as they enter the church, the first painting that welcome visitors is the paiting of ‘Last supper’

Its architecture is as spectacular inside as outside. Its interior is filled with icons and vivid, even dramatic statues of saints.

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A main door at the entrance to Mission San Xavier del Bac Misssion. The Church is very old and requires constant repairs

Unlike the other Spanish missions in Arizona, San Xavier is still actively run by Franciscans and continues to serve the Native community by which it was built.

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A beautiful main, restored wall filled with ornaments at the entrance to Mission San Xavier del Bac Misssion

The church rejects requests to be used for advertising of commercial businesses or used as a set for movies or photo shoots.

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Figure of San Francisco Xavier (laying down) on the right side inside of the San Xavier del Bas Mission

The Mission was created to serve the needs of the local community here, the village of Wa:k (San Xavier District) on the Tohono O’odham reservation, as it still does today.

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The interior of the church San Xavier del Bac Mission

Many people from all over the United States and the world wanted to have their special events at the mission, and sometimes that can be accommodated, but the policy of the Mission staff is to do only marriages, baptisms, etc. for the local community.

Everyone is welcome to attend Masses, special celebrations (like feast days), etc., but it is their belief that one’s sacramental life should be shared within a person’s local parish community.

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There are many saints and angels in the walls of the San Xavier del Bac 

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A large number of statues of saints and angels on the walls of the church give the impression of flying, and that increases the dramatic impression 

Widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States, it hosts some 200,000 visitors each year.

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Impressive interior of the church San Xavier del Bac Mission in Arizona

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Around the church San Xavier del Bas Mission

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Around the church San Xavier del Bas Mission

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Cactuses of all shapes are the most common and the most typical plant in the Arizona desert

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A little chapel near to the San Xavier del Bac Mission – place where people can light the candles  

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A quiet place for believers – the chapel dedicated to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary

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Only members of the local community are allowed to have weddings in San Xavier del Bac Mission 

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It is a huge honor to have wedding in San Xavier del Bac Mission

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On a small hill next to the  Mission raised crosses are symbolizing Christian spirit and lion statues symbolically protect the church

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A closer look at raised crosses and lion statues around the San Xavier del Bac Mission

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Local people sell their food to the tourists who come to see the Mission San Xavier del Bac

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Scene around the San Xavier del Bac Mission 

3 thoughts on “White Dove of the Desert – San Xavier del Bac Mission, Arizona

  1. Anonymus

    Mission San Xavier del Bac is the most beautiful place in Arizona. I like the fact that Church doesn’t want to make any compromise and earn money from movie, marketing and other rich corporations… Church people are truly faithful to their community…

    Reply
  2. Samantha

    Wow, the church interior is fascinating. We were there for years ago and it was beautiful. We had a special guide who told us so many things about the church…

    Reply

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