Long time readers may remember this Spanish mission from an earlier blog post. Or maybe it was Facebook before I decided to drive them out of business by closing my account. We paid a short return visit to this interesting place today on our way to Tucson.

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. Although many if its sister missions have fallen into ruin, San Xavier remains an active, well-maintained place of worship and a source of community pride. San Xavier is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.

We were able to take a guided tour during our last visit. No so today. The local people on whose land the mission sits, take COVID-19 and its prevention seriously. We were only able to view the interior for a short while and at a distance. Pity. And pity for you because it is a beautiful and interesting place and I wish I could have taken more and better photos.

Let’s start with a quick look at the facade. Notice anything missing? How about the lack of a dome on the right hand tower? Legend has it that the omission was intentional because the structure was exempt from tax until completed. No dome, not done.

Have a look at the two spiral shapes on the outer edges of the facade above the balcony. There’s a cat sitting in the one on the left. He’s watching something sitting in the spiral on the right. It’s a mouse! Legend has it that should the cat ever catch the mouse, the world will come to an end.

Here’s the nave and alter. Unlike a European church, there’s not much glitz. Plaster and paint have to do most of the work. Not to say there isn’t some beautiful carving.

I call these ladies the Sock Hop angels. Their outfits would not be out of place in a soda shop in the 1950s.

Let’s have a look at some cacti in the gardens surrounding the chapel. They don’t call it Prickly Pear for nothing!

Neither the school nor the tourist shops were in operation. A pity for us since I was interested in having a look at the cafe and gift shop. Neither was here during our last visit.

A little friend came out of his hole to greet us! My guess is that he gets plenty of snacks in exchange for acting cute.


  1. I went there back in 2013. Beautiful site. They also had a variety of food stands there that looked very tasty

    Also nearby is the Minuteman missile silo. Fun place to learn about a slice of the 60’s.

    When you’re back that way, try to check out the Biosphere outside of Tucson.

    1. The food stalls seem to have been replaced by the new cafe.

      Elsewhere on this blog is a post about the Titan Missile Museum. I agree, not to be missed. I got to “launch” the missile. Goodbye Leningrad!

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