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The Guardian Lion | by Tony Fischer Photography
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The Guardian Lion

San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona, at Twilight.


Mission San Xavier del Bac is situated in the Santa Cruz Valley nine miles south of Tucson, Arizona.


The celebrated Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, first visited Bac in 1692. Eight years later in 1700, Father Kino laid the foundations of the first church, some two miles north of the present site of the Mission. He named it San Xavier in honor of his chosen patron, St. Francis Xavier, the illustrious Jesuit "Apostle of the Indies."


The present church was built from 1783 - 1797 by the Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz. Little is know about the actual labor of the construction of the church, who was the architect, who were the artisans, but many believe it was the Tohono O'odham who fufilled these roles. Why the one tower was never completed is still a mystery, but hopefully one day this question will be answered.


San Xavier Mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. It is a graceful blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture, yet the blending is so complete it is hard to tell where one type begins and another ends.


After more than two hundred years, the Franciscan Friars are still here serving the needs of the faithful. San Xavier del Bac Mission is a fully functioning parish church within the Diocese of Tucson. It is a church that primarily serves the Tohono O'odham, but is open to all.




I placed my mother's ashes here, on the side of the Hill where Father Kino is buried, beneath this Lion.

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Taken on June 21, 2007