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Mission San Xavier del Bac:
The White Dove of the Desert

San Xavier del BacEnjoy a self-guided tour of one of Tucson’s treasures, the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This striking mission is situated in a location known as “Bac” by the early Tohono O’odham people. Bac translates into “the place where water appears”. The Santa Cruz River which ran underground in many spots reappeared nearby making this a remarkable location.

Seeing this magnificent mission from a distance is breathtaking, a white beauty against a backdrop of blue sky and desert scenery makes for a sight like no other. Getting to walk within its walls is a sacred and humbling experience you won’t want to miss.

The original Mission was founded in 1700 a few miles north of the current site. The Mission San Xavier del Bac which now stands was built from 1783-1797 by Franciscan Fathers. This gorgeous building is said by many to be one of the finest examples of Mission architecture in the U.S. and when you see it for yourself, you’re likely to agree. Pure white towers reach towards the heavens, earning this mission the nickname “the White Dove of the Desert”.

San Xavier del Bac InteriorThe Mission San Xavier del Bac has been actively serving the faithful on and off for over 200 years and is currently a parish church affiliated with the Diocese of Tucson. In fact, the faithful have served the Mission as well, protecting it from vandalism, destruction, Apache attacks, and decay over the course of its rich and colorful history. The Native Americans protected the Mission during turbulent times, even going so far as to bury mission artifacts for safekeeping. When peace returned to the mission, the treasures were unearthed and returned. Today, the Mission continues to undergo restoration thanks to the generosity of parishioners and visitors alike.

The Mission is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM year round and offers free parking and free admission to the grounds and the on-site museum. You can sit in the pews of the church and listen to an audio tape telling the history of Mission San Xavier. Because of the need to restore this precious treasure, a small donation is always appreciated.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is about ten miles southwest of Tucson and well worth a stop during your visit to the area. In fact, this mission has been called the “Sistine Chapel of the New World”. While no one knows the architect or the artists responsible for the stunning building and its artwork within its walls, it is a true masterpiece and a sight to behold.

Other interesting links.

Official Mission San Xavier del Bac Website


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