Mission San Xavier del Bac

The White Dove of the Desert

Take a self-guided tour of the Mission San Xavier del Bac, one of Tucson’s treasures. This striking mission is located in what the early Tohono O’odham people called “Bac.” Bac means “the place where water appears.” The Santa Cruz River, which ran underground in many places, resurfaced nearby, making this an extraordinary location.

From afar, this magnificent mission is breathtaking; a white beauty against a backdrop of blue sky and desert scenery creates a sight unlike any other. Walking within its walls is a sacred and humbling experience that you will not want to miss.

The original Mission was established a few miles north of the current location in 1700. Franciscan Fathers built the current Mission San Xavier del Bac between 1783 and 1797. Many consider this stunning structure to be one of the finest examples of Mission architecture in the United States, and after seeing it for yourself, you’re likely to agree. The pure white towers reaching for the heavens have earned this mission the moniker “the White Dove of the Desert.”

The Objective San Xavier del Bac has been serving the faithful for over 200 years and is now a parish church affiliated with the Diocese of Tucson. In fact, the faithful have also served the Mission, defending it against vandalism, destruction, Apache attacks, and decay throughout its long and colorful history. During turbulent times, Native Americans defended the Mission, even going so far as to bury mission artifacts for safekeeping. When the mission was restored to peace, the treasures were discovered and returned. The Mission is still being restored today, thanks to the generosity of parishioners and visitors alike.

The Mission is open year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with free parking and admission to the grounds and museum. You can sit in the church pews and listen to an audio tape about the history of Mission San Xavier. A small donation is always appreciated because of the need to restore this priceless treasure.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is located about ten miles southwest of Tucson and is well worth a visit. This mission has even been dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the New World.” While no one knows who designed the stunning building or who created the artwork within its walls, it is a true masterpiece and a sight to behold.

San Xavier del Bac Mission
1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746
Phone: (520) 294-2624


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