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    7360 E. 22nd Street
    Tucson, AZ 85710
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    Broker: Barry Fotheringham

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    Mission San Xavier del Bac

    1950 W. San Xavier Road
    (520) 294-2624    FAX: (520) 294-3438

    Open every day of the year
    The gift shop is closed only on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
    Self guided tour.  Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Mission San Xavier del Bac is located nine miles southwest of Tucson in the Santa Cruz Valley.  The brilliant white of the church is in sharp contrast to the earth tones of the surrounding land and the purples of the mountains.  

    The Tohono O'odham Indian tribes were settled in the valley when Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino first visited the area in 1692.  The Indians called the area Bac which meant “where water appears”, as the Santa Cruz River, which ran underground in some areas came to the surface nearby. 

    In 1700 Father Kino laid foundations for a church about two miles from the present church.  He named it after his chosen patron saint St. Francis Xavier (in Spanish Xavier is pronounced Havier).

    The present church was built between 1783 and 1797.  One of the mysteries is that no one has ever discovered who the architect and artisans were.  Another mystery is the question why was the dome on the right hand tower never completed? 

    Many experts believe San Xavier Mission to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States.

    As visitors enter the church, they are struck by the brilliance of the gilded area behind the high alter.  The many arches created walls that are covered with original paintings.  Sadly, time, the heat of the desert summers and the thousands of candles that have been burned over the centuries have covered and discolored the walls, statues and alter. 

    Patronato is the name given to the group which has dedicated itself to the upkeep of the mission.  In 1989 this group began raising money to restore the interior of the church.  The restoration was a six year project.  The east and west alters took two years and the dome paintings were restored in the third year.  Cleaning and using chemicals to restore the gold and silver leaf that covered the main alter took two years.  The sixth and final year of the interior work restored the choir loft, the area below the loft and the sacristy. 

    Beginning in 2001, conservators Timothy Lewis and Matilde Rubio were hired to work on the interior of the church and to clean and make repairs on painted and sculptured art and on the walls where needed.  Lewis is one of the Tohono O'odham from the district of San Xavier who trained in conservation techniques as one of the apprentices working with professional European conservators at the mission between 1992-1997.  Under Patronato and church, he received further training in Salzburg, Austria and Rome, where he met his wife. Since 1997 they have spent most of their time in Spain where they have been employed as a team working on several high profile conservation projects.

    The work to stabilize the dome and outer walls of the church alone has cost over 1.5 million dollars.  In order to maintain the upkeep of the mission complex, the Patronato has established an endowment fund to ensure the mission remains in good condition.

    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. 

    Anyone wishing to contribute to the preservation of this historic mission may send a tax-deductible donation to:
    Patronato San Xavier
    P.O. Box 522
    Tucson, Arizona 85702

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