San Xavier del Bac Mission

La Encantada Mall

The Apple Store in Tucson is north and east of town, in La Encantada Mall. We needed some Apple Advice so we headed to this fancy upscale mall, where they were gearing up for Christmas with Thanksgiving still a week away. I guess that’s pretty standard now. It is a nice mall, and has some Arizona flavor.

John F. Kennedy Park

We spent an afternoon hunting birds at Kennedy Park, just a few minutes from our new winter home. We found a species new to us – a Northern Shoveler. He’s a duck, with a bill that looks disproportionately long. We also spotted a few Vermillion Flycatchers – they have brilliant red head and body, with black wings, looking as if very dressed up.

San Xavier del Bac Mission

There were some fantastic pictures of this mission online, and I was excited to go see it. When we arrived, we found it was getting some facial repairs… bummer. I wondered if you could remove the scaffolding with Photoshop, but with my abilities it would be faster to wait for the repairs to be completed.

The San Xavier Mission was founded in 1692. This building was started in 1783 and finished in 1797. The sculpted façade was made of low-fired molded brick and painted with natural pigments. Weather, lightning and earthquakes have not been gentle on the somewhat soft façade.

That elegant façade was damaged in the 1887 earthquake. Six columns, or estipites (never heard of those before!) had already been lost by that time.

When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, the mission was then in Mexican land.

The Gadsden Purchase of 1854 meant the mission was now in United States territory.

Restorations have been undertaken in 1905, 1953, and are going on now. Missing columns are being replaced with copies of the two remaining estipites. (I used a new word!) I’m not sure when they will have the work completed, but if I’m still around here I’ll get better pictures!

The interior is very ornate and in great shape.

One interesting feature I don’t remember seeing elsewhere was this door, painted on the wall. Why?

Adjacent to the main church is a picturesque little chapel.

At least two notables were buried there, in 1795 and 1821. I haven’t tried to translate the memorial.

Loved this heavy door!

Just outside the heavy wooden door is a set of wrought iron gates, leading back into the courtyard.


The sky has been really pretty here in Tucson. Some evenings are clear and gorgeous dark blue, sometimes we get awesome sunsets.

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