San Xavier del Bac

Two weeks ago Roy and I decided to be tourists for a day.  Even though I was raised in Tucson, I'd never been to the San Xavier del Bac.  Which is outrageous, because it's amazing!

It was a good excuse to practice my "manual" camera skills.  So prepare for many pictures.

The drive there was trafficky... and Roy just looooves traffic.

We could see the church form the I-19.  From that distance it's like a white castle in the middle of flat nothing.  Pretty cool.  Cool mosaic greeted us when we took our exit.

The Spanish began construction on this church in 1783.  That's old for Arizona.  In fact, it's easily the oldest European building in the state.

There are parts of the church that have been restored, obviously.  There was an earthquake in the late 1800s that did some damage.  But most of the church is all original.  Look at this stone, it's so warped and faded.  I love it.  Reminds me of Europe :-)

This Catholic mission was begun in the late 1600s by Father Kino.  I vaguely remember learning about him in elementary school.  They were basically the first European settlers of the Tucson area, trying to convert the O'odham people who already inhabited the land.

The office I work at is near a road named Kino.  It has a statue of him in like a poncho riding a horse.  Looks like a good guy.

But it was a Franciscan missionary who began construction on this beautiful building, decades after Kino had left.  I love the ceilings. 

 This ceiling is just a smattering of flower petals, which have little scraps of bright paint remaining on them.

The interior was a mix of Spanish {baroque} and Native American art and influence.  None of the artists are known, but they were most likely people from both nationalities.  The colors were awesome.  They said that the colors were exactly as they would have been when it was first completed.

Still a working church.  There used to be O'odham clay houses all around outside of the church.  Now there are little huts where Native Americans sell fry bread and other goodies.  But their actual houses aren't too far away.

When we first walked into the church I was really surprised at how loud it was.  People were practically shouting at each other from across the building.  I even heard this lady shout, "Hey Toots!"

But after ten minutes or so it seemed like most of the tourists filtered out, and worshipers filtered in.  They lit candles, prayed, etc.

Meet Saint Francis.  People would kiss his wooden face, leave tokens on his chest, pray, etc.  It was interesting.  You can go on their website and have a prayer printed and placed on his chest if you are too far away to do it yourself.

We also read in the museum that people lift his head when they pray to him {hoping that he will pass their prayer on to God} and they believe that only the pure in heart can life his head.  Roy said he saw someone lifting the head.  I must have had my eyes stuck behind the camera somewhere.

Holy water.  Love the colorful walls.

Reminded me of a mini Arizona version of Winged Victory.  A favorite sculpture in the Louvre. 

Roy thought this little guy was kind of creepy.  So this picture is dedicated to him.

I loved this wall painting because it's so European.

Mesquite wood door!

I saw a lot of rats and cats represented.  And the rattlesnake handles on the door are one of a kind, I'm sure. 

This smaller chapel is even older than the rest of the church.

Everything was in Spanish.  It made me feel bad for the O'odham!  People were always showing up speaking different languages and trying to teach them those languages.

One of the original books they used to read from during worship.




That little ranch house Roy and I were staying at had ceilings like this. 

There was a pathway and a grotto on a hill beside the church.

Us attempting to take a picture of ourselves this this camera.  Not quite as easy as a point-and-shoot.


Who knew there was a little piece of Europe hiding out in Tucson?  I was in love.

I'm so glad Roy can put up with my nerdy obsession.  He was so patient when I {of course} had to read like every plaque in the museum, even though I'm not going to remember most of it in a few months.  If I had more time I'd write it all down here... but alas—I need about four more hours in a day.  Hours not spent at work.

It was one of the funnest things we've done in Tucson.  Roy takes about a quarter of the time that I do to look at everything.  But he spent the rest of the time in a pew looking up things about the church on his phone, and then telling me all about it.

Love that boy.

We'll have to keep hunting down the good stuff for when Roy's family or any friends come to town.  We'll resume scouting after Roy's done with finals.  Wish him luck!

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