*Illustration . . . To remain alive, a church must exist within as well as without. The Papago Indians-the Desert People-and the Franciscan Guardians of their place of worship combine their resources here in communion of spirit. A young lady of the village, who has now come of age, celebrates her quinceñera, her fifteenth year of life, with her parents, godparents, priest, and friends.
*Illustration . . . From Grotto Hill, looking westward, lie the mission and the village of Bac.
*Illustration . . . Saint Mary is honored each August in a fiesta sponsored by all the Marys of the community. The Papago processioners, carrying a rainbow, climb the hill to the replica of the Grotto of Lourdes.
*Illustration . . . If the walls of the church are not kept plastered and painted, water will destroy the ancient lime mortar bonding the fired bricks in place.
*Illustration . . . The arched entrance at the rear of the mission was added by Bishop Henri Granjon in 1906.
*Illustration . . . The cloistered inner patio or garth has been a corral, a cactus garden, and the site of a windmill and wooden frame house. The fountain, grape arbor, new garden, and brick-tiled walkways were added between 1968 and 1971.
*Illustration . . . Mission San Xavier is vibrant. From the day its first brick was set in place, it has never ceased to change, to weather, to grow, and to be transformed beneath a new coat of paint. It has undergone many restorations and alterations, but its essential beauty has remained untouched for more than a century and a half.
And its bells still toll the Angelus. They still notify the villagers of a death among them. The mission is more than bricks and beauty. It is a reflection of the spirit and aspirations and very lives of its parishioners.
*Illustration . . . The heart of San Xavier is its nave and sanctuary. Here there are warmth and time past and time present. One knowingly sits, stands, or kneels in the presence of God.
*Illustration . . . Only the dome at the crossing rises above God the Father. It is His man-made sky. God and Father and His angels, ensconced in the scalloped shell of the retablo, oversee the Immaculate conception and all else within the church.
*Illustration . . . The retablo recapitulates the story of Creation and the highlights of Christianity.
*Illustration . . . The east chapel of Our Sorrowing Mother attracts Papago Indians to Her devotion. She is the grieving Mother of Christ, and memory of her rests secure on the former frontier of New Spain.
*Illustration . . . ¡Maria¡ ¡Madre mia¡ ¡O Consuela de mortal!
*Illustration . . . Mary! My Mother! Consolation for mortal beings!
*Illustration . . . Her clothes are laundered and changed and her eighteenth-century crown of silver is carefully cleaned.
*Illustration . . . Angels are everywhere. They are musicians and candlesticks. They tie back plaster drapes and support niches and statues of saints.
*Illustration . . . Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Order of Friars Minor and patron of today's Franciscan missionaries, the friars whose duty it is to serve the Papago people.
*Illustration . . . Color Illustration of Saint Francis of Assisi.
*Illustration . . . Hail Mary...full of grace!
*Illustration . . . Saint Elizabeth of Portugal.
*Illustration . . . Saint Theresa of Avila.
*Illustration . . . The west chapel of Ecce Homo and the reclining San Francesco Xavier.
*Illustration . . . Behold! I am the man! And I am the child of God.
*Illustration . . . The tabernacle, the priest, the chalice and vestments are reminders of Holy Mass, the soul of religious service in the mission.
*Illustration . . . Mass is offered daily as well as on special occasions, such as that of the Feast of San Francisco Xavier each December 3.
*Illustration . . . Color Illustration of the altar where the Mass is offered.
*Illustration . . . A Papago congregation watches while the village feast committee honors Saint Francis and begins a new ceremonial year. There is a recessional from the church and the old feast committee gives way to the new.
*Illustration . . . December 3 is celebrated in a spirit of happiness. These are the Desert People and this is their church.
*Illustration . . . Josheph, the husband of Mary, looks on.
*Illustration. . . Joseph, the husband of Mary, looks on.
*Illustration . . . In solitary worship, there is inner beauty radiating throughout the nave, choir loft, and sculptured shell above the window in the facade of the church. The Franciscan cord winds beneath the cornice; painted angels adorn the corner vaulting.
*Illustration . . . Here in the baptistry there are continual spiritual initiations into the church. Names are bestowed; kinship ties are strengthened through godparentage. The plaster stand is Franciscan; its copper font is a legacy of the Espinosa church.
*Illustration . . . In 1759, Father Espinosa, the Jesuit, ordered from Mexico City "a head and hands of San Xavier with a body frame resembling the statue of Vera Cruz." This very statue, representing the patron of the mission and the village, stands in the center of the retablo behind the high altar.
*Illustration . . . The sacrarium receives the water of the priest's ablutions; a wrought iron horse holds the towels. Little of the eighteenth-century plaster survives in the sacristy dome.
*Illustration . . . When Mass is concluded, vestments are returned to the sacristy.
*Illustration . . . Mission San Xavier del Bac continues to serve fiestas. There are sounds of music, prayer, and laughter. There are all-night social dances. There are bonfires, food, fireworks, and processions.
*Illustration . . . Night time gathering at the mission.
*Illustration . . . Fireworks above the mission.
*Illustration . . . In 1797, Pedro Bojorquez, who may have been the master builder of the church at Bac, carved his name and the year inside the sacristy door. The work was completed, but not at an end.
Copyright © 1973. The Arizona Board of Regents