The Mission San Xavier del Bac, the place where the water begins as there once was a natural spring near by, was established in 1692 by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, founder of the chain of Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert. He also established Mission San Jose de Tumacacori nearby. A Jesuit of Italian descent, he often visited and preached in the area, then the Pimería Alta colonial territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
The present Mission building of San Xavier was constructed under the direction of Franciscan fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz between 1783 and 1797. And after many political transitions, the church is still run by the Franciscans.
San Xavier has an elegant white stucco Moorish-inspired exterior, with an ornately decorated entrance. It is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.
My wife and I discovered Mission San Xavier while we lived in Tucson during my tenure as a professor of art at the University of Arizona. We attended many holiday services there and we were totally taken by both the exterior and interior architecture. It was a joy to be able to make a sculpture of this magnificent church and feel the power of its forms in my hands.