Mission San Xavier del Bac

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Mission San Xavier del Bac (1692-1828, 1859-Present) - A Spanish Mission established in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino in present day Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. Abandoned as a mission in 1828. Occupied in 1859 by the U.S. Catholic Church and operated as a Catholic Church since then.

Mission San Xavier del Bac Church.
Mission San Xavier del Bac Church.
Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Spanish Period (1692-1822)

Mission San Xavier del Bac Courtyard.

A Spanish Mission established in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino as one of a chain of missions in what is now the Mexican state of Sonora and southern Arizona. The original mission was located several miles from the current location and was vulnerable to hostile Indian attacks. The first mission was destroyed by Indians about 1770 and it was moved to the current location and rebuilt. In 1775 the Presidio of Tucson was built close by to provide protection for the nearby missions and their flocks. The mission itself provided enough defenses with the enclosed courtyard and massive church to hold off Apache raiding parties until help could arrive from a nearby Presidio. The missions and presidios were not collocated because the priests thought the soldiers were a bad influence on the mission populations and created distrust.

The centerpiece of the mission was the church and the current church was built between 1783-1793. The mission was essentially complete as it stands today by 1797 although there were portions of the church left unfinished. The most visible unfinished piece is the east bell tower which was left with no dome and bare brick walls.

Mexican Period (1822-1853)

Mission San Xavier del Bac Church Interior.

Control of the mission system passed from the Spanish to the new Mexican Government at the end of the Mexican War of Independence in 1822. Mexican troops garrisoned the Presidios and the government established new laws secularizing the missions and sending Spanish priests back to Spain in 1828. The San Xavier del Bac Mission remained vacant from 1828 to 1859 although the last of the Franciscan priests did not leave the church until 1837. The Mexican garrisons remained at the nearby Presidio until 1856 when the Gadsden Purchase was implemented and all of present-day southern Arizona became part of the U.S.A.

American Period (1853-Present)

With the implementation of the Gadsden purchase in 1856 the U.S. Government provided protection from the hostile Indians and the U.S. Catholic Church assumed responsibility for the mission churches that remained. The church at San Xavier del Bac Mission came under the Santa Fe Diocese who funded repairs and assigned a priest. The role of the mission was fundamentally altered from that of providing a protected community for indigenous peoples to just providing for the spiritual needs of those peoples. Regular church services resumed in 1866.

Current Status

Must See! The Mission Church is open to the public daily, except when it is being used for church services. Located just south of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona. This is a fine example of an Arizona Spanish mission and mission church.

Location: At exit 92 on U.S. Hwy 19 South of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona.

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.10724 Long: -111.00786

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 2,516'



Visited: 9 Mar 2015, 31 Oct 2009

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