This church is called the Dove of the Desert because it is maintained with a completely white exterior (except for the entrance) which is quite striking. It is located on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. The architectural style is Spanish Colonial and the architect was Ignacio Gaona. The sanctuary is heavily decorated with intricate sculptural art, which was recently restored to its original brilliance, quite colorful indeed! The exterior is noted for its two short towers, one of them still incomplete. You can see this landmark from quite a distance, traveling along I-19. It makes good photographs any time of the day.
There is a good description of the history, art, and architecture on the official web site. If you learn about it before you go, it will be more meaningful.
The mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino, and there is a display case containing either his preserved remains or a facsimile, I'm not sure which. The local members often come there to pray before it. With all the Catholic stuff there, it makes me feel a little uneasy, but if you are Catholic, you should feel right at home.
I had the interesting experience of singing there, in the choir, in a performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, which was offered by what is now known as the Tucson Masterworks Chorale. It was a fitting and excellent location with good acoustics.
This church serves a local native congregation. It is free and open to the public every day. There is a gift shop and museum. A wonderful crested saguaro lives in a side yard. There are many mission churches throughout the region, but this one is most notable. It is worth a visit.
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