Monday, March 18, 2013

"white dove of the desert"--the Mission San Xavier del Bac

A few afternoons ago, I was able to leave work a bit I took advantage of the warm spring day to explore a bit--I went down to the Mission San Xavier del Bac, one of the earliest European structures to be built in Arizona. 

Only a 15-minute drive down I-19 from downtown Tucson, the 18th-century mission is one of the best examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the U.S.--the "white dove" of neo-Baroque and Moorish influences is still a parish church of the Tohono O'odham people today, over three centuries after Padre Kino first ventured up into what the Spanish Empire labeled "PimerĂ­a Alta." 

Desert sky, Native American culture, Spanish architecture--this is definitely a nowhere-else-but-Tucson kind of place, and endlessly photogenic. So. A few iPhone shots...

Traditional saguaro rib-mesquite log-ocotillo branch ramadas line the plaza in front of the Mission, where local Tohono O'odham families often sell regional food and drink...

View from the side chapel
(the slight 'fish-eye' effect
obtained by using the built-in panorama
mode in the iPhone5)

And here's the door handle on the Mission's entrance:

While a rattlesnake is an environmentally appropriate motif for a desert building, I can't help but wonder how many visitors note the irony of having a serpent 'guarding the entrance' to a church? (re-read Genesis, anyone?)

Inside--definitely baroque:

Look carefully at the cloth covering the altar:

It's the 'trademark' motif of the Tohono O'odham--the man-in-the-maze:

And some more of the Baroque interior--note the Native American statue on the right:

This is Ketari Tekakwitha, a 17th-c. Algonquin woman who was canonized, last year, as the first Native American Saint in the Catholic church...

The rear entrance to the courtyard of the Mission...


Totally unrelated to the Mission, the scene below,
but this striking street-art was on my way--
I've passed it so many times, but had never stopped to photograph it:
the Heart mural on the corner of Stone & Speedway:

(Bright colors and skulls--the pre-Hispanic and Hispanic influence of the Day of the Dead)

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