San Xavier del Bac

  • Home
  • /
  • San Xavier del Bac

The "White Dove of the Desert" - San Xavier del Bac

On the San Xavier Indian Reservation just south of downtown Tucson, Arizona, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a former Spanish Catholic mission. The mission was founded by Padre Eusebio Kino in 1692 located near the banks of Santa Cruz River, in the center of a centuries-old settlement of the Sobaipuri O'odham, a branch of the Akimel or River O'odham people.

Xavier, co-founder of the Society of Jesus in Europe and a Christian missionary, was the name of the mission. There was a church built to the north of the current Franciscan church and it served as the mission until it was destroyed in an Apache raid in 1770. Today's mission is the old European structure in Arizona, built between 1783 and 1797. Labor was provided by the O'odham. The Mission San Xavier del Bac is California's outstanding Spanish Colonial structure with some 200,000 yearly visitors. The site is a well-known pilgrimage site, with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, some participating in ceremonial procession or cabalgatas.

Spanish colonists claimed more land for New Spain in present day Arizona as they moved northward from Mexico, establishing a chain of missions along the Sonoran Mountain range. Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit who spread Christianity throughout New Spain, founded the San Xavier del Bac Mission, a National Historic Landmark, in 1700. Built by the Franciscan order in 1797, the white stucco church stands where Father Kino chose. This mission is often referred to as the "white dove of the desert" as it is located on the San Xavier Reservation, a part of the Tohono O'odham nation, southwest of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona.

Catholic missions played an integral role during Spanish colonization in the 17th and 18th centuries. Generally, missions are run by Jesuits or Franciscan friars who establish European settlements that allow colonization to extend its influence and culture. The Jesuits brought domesticated horses and cattle to the Tohono O'odham, a Piman-speaking group, at San Xavier del Bac. Aside from European crops, like wheat, the Spanish introduced permanent settlement and animal husbandry to semi-nomadic Native Americans. 

Across the Santa Cruz River from San Xavier del Bac was a Tohono O'odham town called Wa:k, which was derived from a Piman word for water. A mix of Spanish Catholicism and O’odham Indian desert culture is reflected in The Mission’s name.

While we can't guarantee your roof will last over 300 years like the Mission, we do guarantee quality work. You can get a free, no-obligation quote from DC Roofing of Arizona if you have questions about the condition of your roof, whether on your home or commercial building by calling us at (520) 979-9095.

Seeing a 300+ year old structure that has been in continued use is amazing, if you want to stretch your imagination even further back in history to where the original inhabitants lived, or if you just want to take in some absolutely stunning natural beauty, you really should go check out Sabino Canyon.