Friday, January 14, 2011

On A Mission

Today, you might say, we were on a mission to see what was on a Mission. Only a few miles down the road (on Mission Street) from our Western Way campground is the Mission San Xavier del Bac. The Spanish Catholic Mission was founded in 1699 by the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino. The original Mission was built where the natural springs (now gone) came up from the desert. It was also built on the very edge of the centuries old Apache Indian Center and was at one point destroyed by the Apaches.

The architecture of the Mission is Moorish inspired, but structurally (and seen from the air) is built in the shape of the Cross. The Mission fell on hard times for a long enough period that there was a great deal of deterioration of the structure and the furnishings and the artifacts inside. Because the original building methods and materials were not understood when repairs were first undertaken, some of the materials used (like modern cement) actually created further damage. Thanks in part to the separation of church and state, no federal funds can be used for the restoration, but private funds, and the earnings of the historical site itself, are now being used for an ongoing restoration project using some of Europe's finest craftsman and artists along with local native artisans who understand the original methods, such as using the juice of boiled pad cactus mixed with sand and lime to make the breathable original material from which the Mission was constructed.

If you are wondering the same thing we did upon arrival at the Mission- No, there is not a missing portion of the tower on the right- that is the original design feature....

In its day, it was a magnificent building intended to attract people from local communities and also from far away. It is still doing that to this day. Mass is held daily. Here are a few images from "today's Mission!"

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