X is for Xavier LbNA # 29505
|Placed Date||Mar 26 2007|
Walk: ¼ mile roundtrip, if that but over rocky terrain, sturdy shoes recommended
Stamp: Hand carved
Mission San Xavier del Bac is situated in the Santa Cruz Valley nine miles south of Tucson, Arizona. [1950 San Xavier Rd., Tucson AZ] Framed in the warm browns of the surrounding hills and the violet shadows of more distant mountains, it rises, brilliantly white from the desert floor of dusty green mesquite and sage. The imposing dome and lofty towers, the rounded parapets and graceful spires etched against the vivid blue complete a skyline with a graceful enchantment. [It is affectionately nicknamed the "White Dove of the Desert.”]
From the earliest times, the Tohono O'odham settlement in which the Mission is located was called Bac, "place where the water appears," because the Santa Cruz River, which ran underground for some distance, reappears on the surface nearby. The celebrated Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, first visited Bac in 1692. Eight years later in 1700, Father Kino laid the foundations of the first church, some two miles north of the present site of the Mission. He named it San Xavier in honor of his chosen patron, St. Francis Xavier, the illustrious Jesuit "Apostle of the Indies."
In 1768, Fray Francisco Hermengildo Garces, a man of outstanding personality and prodigious accomplishments among all missionaries in Arizona, established his headquarters at San Xavier. From here this Franciscan Friar set forth on his many missionary explorations.
The present church was built from 1783 - 1797 by the Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz. Little is know about the actual labor of the construction of the church, who was the architect, who were the artisans, but many believe it was the Tohono O'odham who fufilled these roles. Why the one tower was never completed is still a mystery, but hopefully one day this question will be answered.
San Xavier Mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. It is a graceful blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture, yet the blending is so complete it is hard to tell where one type begins and another ends.
After more than two hundred years, the Franciscan Friars are still here serving the needs of the faithful. San Xavier del Bac Mission is a fully functioning parish church within the Diocese of Tucson. It is a church that primarily serves the Tohono O'odham, but is open to all.
To the box:
Start at the white cross which was dedicated in 1985 to Juan F. Mamake. From here, walk in a southeasterly direction to a 3 ft tall fairly large rock. Standing at this rock surrounded by 3 creosote bushes, you will see a cross at 360*, another cross at 300* and yet another cross at 280*. Now walk downhill (south) 17 paces to the faint foot trail. Walk 50 paces generally east and stop. Look uphill and locate two barrel cacti with a rock in between them. Walk 14 paces uphill to the cactus on the left to discover that there are actually 2 barrel cacti (however one is dying) squeezed between two rocks. The other lone barrel cactus is about 2 ½ to 3 feet away from the smallest. You are in the right place if you see one cross at approximately 330*. Sneakily (as there are lots of kids playing and people that visit), look under the rocks on the northwest side.
Please re-hide securely as there are lots of little animals that would love to steal the box.
The standard warning applies when reaching for letterboxes in Arizona:
Rattlesnakes and “mean” things abound,
please take a stick and poke around.
It may save your hand or your life
and help to avoid loads of strife!