Fr. John Domin
1923 - 2017
Tue 6/13 10:30 am
In the late 1600s, a stranger on horseback, Franciscan Friar, Father Eusebio Kino, rode into the village of Wa:k. The Tohono O'odham people welcomed Father Kino, who founded a Catholic mission in their village in 1692.
Mission San Xavier del Bac, dates from the late 1700's when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain. It wasn't until 1783 that construction was begun on the church, with money borrowed from a Sonoran rancher. The Mission was completed in 1797.
Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain hired an architect, Ignacio Gaona, and a large workforce of Tohono O'odham, the local people, to build the Mission in 1783.
The shell, a symbol of pilgrimage after the patron saint of Spain, Santiago or James the Greater, is replicated all through the structure in window treatments, the sanctuary, the facade and other details within the interior.
Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. In that same year, the last Spanish Franciscan departed.
With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission became part of the United States. In 1859 San Xavier came under the direction of the Diocese of Santa Fe and the first repairs of the Mission were undertaken.
Constructed of low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar, the entire structure is roofed with masonry vaults, making it unique among Spanish Colonial buildings within US borders.
Earthquakes and other natural disasters damaged the church many times throughout its history, but restoration was ongoing.
Little is known about the people who decorated the interior. The artwork was probably created by artists from Queretero in New Spain. The sculpture was created in guild workshops and carried by donkey to the Mission. Craftsmen created gessoed clothing once the sculpture was in place.
Recently, this National Historic Landmark, Mission San Xavier, became a separate nonprofit entity. It remains a testament to the endurance of culture though out our history.
A group of community leaders formed the Patronanto San Xavier in 1978 to promote the conservation of Mission San Xavier.
In a five-year program, an international team of conservators cleaned, removed over-painting, and repaired the interior painted and sculptured art of Mission San Xavier del Bac. But despite all the preservation work which has been completed, more remains to be done to guarantee the survival of this landmark for future generations.
12 - 12
Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, AZ
© 2016 Sanctuary for Sacred Arts