University of Arizona
Sense of Place
San Xavier del Bac, aka the White Dove of the Desert, is an active Catholic church south of Tucson in the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation. As a mission concept, San Xavier was founded in the late 1600s, early 1700s by Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino. The church building itself was begun in the late 1700s and finished in 1797. It is under constant maintenance.
Right: Padre Kino statue at the corner of S. Kino Pkwy. and E. 15th St., decked out for the holidays and with his horse appearing to be grazing on buffelgrass, which wasn't in Arizona during Kino's time.
PhotoNina Kolodij, 2015
San Xavier. PhotoPaul Sheppard, 2010
Artistry inside San Xavier.
PhotoJayme Kelter, 2007
Gaizka Urreiztieta, 2011
Left Great Angel.
Paul Sheppard, 2017
San Xavier. PhotoPaul Sheppard, 2009
San Xavier pews. PhotoWill Carlisle, 2012
San Xavier corner. PhotoCarly Stewart, 2014
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in tile and statuary.
AlgonquinMohawk, canonized by Pope
Benedict XVI in 2012.
San Xavier fence.
PhotoMeghan Marriott, 2014
Saint Francis Xavier, 1506-1552.
More sharp corners.
Backlit portico. PhotoPaul Sheppard
The San Xavier Mission Church is considered "endangered," i.e., in threat of falling apart. Click on this image to see the list of endangered cultural sites worldwide (opens a new window).
Aerial photo. San Xavier is the white buildings lower left. Lots of ag fields, in a sea of otherwise desertscape. Martinez Hill is distinctly darker on the north slope than the south. Why?
San Xavier timeline. Click on image to see the full brochure.
Bernard "Bunny" FontanaRenowned Southwestern historian, anthropologist Fontana dies at 85: April 2, 2016, a titan has passed.
Pre-eminent Scholar of Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Xavier in ArtAn icon of the Tucson art scene was Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia (19091982).
Click here to see the DeGrazia
Gallery in the Sun, a Tucson must-see.
Book of DeGrazia art-
work of Padre Kino.
DeGrazia: San Xavier.
DeGrazia: San Xavier.
Breaking News 2017: Crested Caracara at San Xavier
2017: We saw a large raptor bird flying low over the ag fields of San Xavier. Bigger than Cooper's Hawk or Northern Harrier, sort of like a vulture but vultures winter in Mexico and soar high in the sky, not flying low. White "hands" evident in flight. This was a Crested Caracara, not unheard of for southern Arizona but not common either. At this moment, a big group of Caracaras is residing at San Xavier. Go back out again to see them, and check a nice bird off your North American life list.
John James Audubon illustration, Crested Caracara.
Click here for more detail about this species.
San Xavier team shot, 2017. PhotoPaul Sheppard.
San Xavier team shot, 2017, panoramic version. PhotoPaul Sheppard.
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Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona
Revised January, 2017