After Spanish explorers conquered Central and South America, they scoured the present states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah and Nevada searching for lost cities of gold. Motivated by faith, Spanish priests established missions for the conversion of natives to Catholicism. These missions, outposts of European civilization, still operate, draw modern men seeking their ancient roots.
The Mission San Xavier is south of Tucson and it’s construction was finished in 1797. One of the mission’s two towers has recently been restored and funds are currently being saved to restore the second one to it’s original condition.
The church interior, though small, is intimate and shows icons of the Catholic church, carved saints, candles, Holy Water, wood carvings, high ceilings and stained glass.
Early morning, the courtyards are in shadows, bells are silent, doors are ajar and tourists snuggle in coats as they file into the small church to say their prayers.
Churches built by hand, with wooden dowels, seem more trustworthy than those built with power drills, metal studs, with huge HVAC systems.
The Holy Water is in a metal container, on a chair, in a hallway, with little paper cups to drink from instead of a long heavy ladle.
This water has been blessed, and, in a torrid desert landscape like this, water is always Holy, whether it is blessed or not.