Saturday, February 6, 2010

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Thur - Feb. 4th
Casino del Sol of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of the Tohono O'odham Nation. We stayed here Thursday and Friday night before heading to Phoenix to pick up my mother at the airport and visit my aunt and several friends in the area.

San Xavier Mission was founded in 1692 and has been an active mission ever since. It was completely isolated out in the desert when the current church was built in 1783. It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings.

There is no admission charge and they have over 200,000 visitors each year. It is considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in this country. It is made of low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar made by a large workforce of O'odham Indians. The entire structure is roofed with masonry vaults, a unique
Spanish feature.
An earthquake in 1887 knocked down the mortuary wall and damaged part of the church. In 1939 a lightening strike hit the west tower lantern. Mortar that was replaced with cement allowed moisture to seep into the walls and murals started to deteriorate. New restoration has removed all of the cement repairs and put back the original lime plaster allowing the walls to breath and stay dry. Lots of restoration has been done on the interior murals and is ongoing. This is a small side chapel with a desert garden.

This is a view of the courtyard. Franciscans became permanent residents of the Arizona Sonoran Desert in 1768, after Royal suspicion and intrigue exiled the Jesuits from all Spanish lands.

This is Grotto Hill next to the church. The little shelters in front are for locals who come and sell their crafts. When Spanish rule ended and it became part of the U.S., funding was discontinued and the east tower was never finished.

Infusion of Islamic and Christian architecture is from Moorish times in Spain. This view and the one below are taken from Grotto Hill.

Believe it or not, the clouds in the background are covering Mt. Lemmon Ski Peak and chains have been required the last two days to get up there.

The whole time we have been in Tucson, the largest Gem and Mineral Show in the world has been going on. Of course John said there was no need for us to go since he already has his "gem", and as you all know, he treats her like a goddess. Hmmm. What would be so wrong with finding a gem for his goddess?
The Spaniards came here in search of oro (gold) and totally overlooked the silver, copper and turquoise. There is still lots of mining going on here.

No blogs for a few days as we will be visiting friends and family and catching up with shopping and laundry.

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