University of Arizona
Sense of Place
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.
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.
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. PhotoAlexia Grant, 2019
Artistry inside San Xavier.
PhotoJayme Kelter, 2007
Gaizka Urreiztieta, 2011
Left Great Angel.
Paul Sheppard, 2017
San Xavier, tower and dome from tower.
San Xavier pews. PhotoWill Carlisle, 2012
San Xavier corner. PhotoCarly Stewart, 2014
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in tile and statuary.
Algonquin-Mohawk, canonized by Pope
Benedict XVI in 2012.
San Xavier fence.
PhotoMeghan Marriott, 2014
Saint Francis Xavier, 1506-1552.
More corners and angles.
PhotosPaul Sheppard and Vanessa Martin, 2019
Backlit portico. Vanessa Martin, 2019
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).
• 2020: Towering Task Awaits: AZDS article on renovation of the East Tower.
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.
San Xavier plaque. Click on image to see the full image.
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.
San Xavier on canvas.
Voyager RV Park, main hall.
Mission San Xavier: Patches, Symbols, and Seals (oh my!)
(click to enlarge)
- San Xavier has its own patch.
- Look what made the great seal
of the City of Tucson, Arizona.
- And Pima County, Arizona, also.
- Pima County Sheriff, too.
- Even U-Haul.
Greetings From Tucson: San Xavier
Patronato San Xavier
Click here for the Patronato San Xavier,
dedicated to preserving the church.
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.
Breaking News 2023: Professor Ofelia Zepeda Honored
2023: Ofelia Zepeda, Tohono O'odham elder and UA Regents Professor, has been honored with a fellowship from USA (United States Artists) for her writing, including poetry.
See details here
Ofelia Zepeda, UA Regents Professor,
2023 USA fellow.
San Xavier team shot, 2023 (a pano shot this year)
2019: Panoramic of the Santa Catalinas from San Xavier,
one day after impressive snowfall in Tucson. PhotoPaul Sheppard.
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Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721 USA
Comments to Paul Sheppard: sheppard @ ltrr.arizona.edu
Copyright © 20042023 Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona
Revised January, 2023