Friday, January 25, 2013

2012 California Road Trip

Part 11

Saint Xavier del Bac Mission

The next stop on our road trip was at the Saint Xavier del Bac Mission that is just south of Tucson, AZ.  The following is a brief history of the Mission.

A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.
The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.
The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners.

The mission is referred to as "The White Dove of the Dessert' and from the photo below you can understand that name:  The mission structure is currently being refurbished on the exterior and is mostly completed, except for the right tower.

The facade of the front of the building shows remarkable examples of 18th century architecture.  The stone front is inlaid with hand sculptured figures of saints that protect the mission.

This is a close up of one of the figures which shows some weathering, remains in pretty good shape for a piece that is over 200 years old. 

This photo shows part of the back area of the mission that has a nice running water fountain  and open area that has a view of the Sonora mountains in the background.

There are numerous plants and cacti on the grounds that were in bloom in mid-November.   Also lots of bees and butterflies hovering around the plants.  In the photo below, a bee seems to be attacking a butterfly.  I turns out they were both going after the same flower and there was enough room for both to enjoy the plant.

The truly remarkable beauty of the mission is found on the inside where great paintings and sculptures abound.  The works were commissioned from artisans in 'New Spain' which Mexico was called in the 18th century.   The drawings and specifications for the art works were sent to capital of New Spain (Mexico City) and the artisans there completed the works by hand and sent them back on wagons and installed them at the mission.  The works in the church are absolutely beautiful and maintained in excellent condition.  Some of the statues have cloth garments that are removed and washed periodically, then put back on the statues.   I do not know if it would be possible to produce something like this today?  It is definitely a place I would recommend visiting when ever you have a chance, it should be on everyone's bucket list!

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