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Friday, March 29, 2013

Visit to Saint Xavier del Bac Mission

Getting ready to leave – and no change in plans after all.  Well maybe - we'll know for sure when we reach the I-10 cut off. We are headed north about 250 miles to a 1000 Trails campground in Verde Valley – near Cottonwood, AZ. Lots of pretty and interesting stuff to do around there.
Yesterday we took a drive up the highway to the Saint Xavier del Bac Mission on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. It is a National Historic Landmark. The mission was founded by Father Kino in 1692 as a Catholic mission. Construction began on the present church in 1783 and completed in 1797. Well almost completed.
This is a picture of the church in 1887
Here it is now – notice the tower on the right – still not finished. 
One of the legends about the building is a myth suggesting that early taxation laws exempted buildings under construction so the builders left one dome unfinished. Another explanation is that the second tower was left unfinished until the “Excellent Builder” comes to finish it.
The left side of the church has been restored, the right side is being worked on. The concrete stuccoing put on in the 1980s is being removed because it trapped water inside the church and that was damaging the interior decoration. It is being slowly replaced with traditional mud plaster that included pulp from the prickly pear cactus. This material breathes to allow excess water to evaporate. The downside is this material requires regular inspection and higher maintenance costs.
A closer look at the intricate work on the front of the building.
One of the statues is missing his/her head.
The interior of the church is filled with amazing original statues and mural paintings. This is the lower half of the wall. An intricate almost 3-D painted design.
Looking through a small door into the room where the Baptismal font is. The painting on the lower part of the wall was started but not finished.
One of the statues – this one shows some wear. They are made of a cement type material and painted. The painting is amazing – it looks just like cloth.
A huge painting on one of the walls. Frame and picture are painted right on the wall.
One of the ceiling domes. Again wonderful paintings.
The wooden head of this figure is as smooth as silk from being rubbed by so many people over the years as people pray to him. 
Resources were limited so materials such as marble, glazed tile, fabric and wood are simulated using trompe l’oeil technique. The work can be appreciated in this picture.
There are two of these statues one on each side of the main altar. Cannot find any information about them.
The top of the main altar. Very intricate and very colorful. Sorry it didn't turn out better. Guess I didn't hold the camera still enough. There are over 300 images of angels and 50 statues in the church.
A side altar – more statues and fantastic painting and colors.
The exterior of the church has cactus gardens planted all around it. Just some of the plants growing there.

Every time we go there I want to go back because I know I missed so much. Truly an amazing place. 

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