A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. The current church dates from the late 1700's, when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain. In 1783, Franciscan missionary Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain was able to begin construction on the present structure using money borrowed from a Sonoran rancher. He hired an architect, Ignacio Gaona, and a large workforce of O'odham to create the present church.
Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. The last resident Franciscan of the 19th Century departed in 1837. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States. In 1859 San Xavier became part of the Diocese of Santa Fe. In 1866 Tucson became an incipient diocese and regular services were held at the Mission once again. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission in 1872. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity now teach at the school and reside in the convent.
The Franciscans returned to the Mission in 1913. Recently, Mission San Xavier became a separate nonprofit entity. It remains a testament to the endurance of culture through out our history.
The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.
There is no admission charge to visit Mission San Xavier. Some 200,000 visitors come each year from all over the world to view what is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.
The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners.
The Mission is 9 miles south of downtown Tucson, Arizona just off of Interstate 19. Take exit 92 (San Xavier Road) and follow signs to the Mission.
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You will find information about the West Valley side of the Phoenix Metro area. "Snappy" will also feature attractions and places throughout Arizona.
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