Arizona Travel Guide: Visit Arizona Missions by:Paula Hartgraves
What are missions? Missions are structures built by the first Spanish missionaries or priests to come in the area. They housed the Spanish missionaries who came to spread Christianity in the Americas, and are about two or three centuries old.
How did these missions came about? Well, centuries ago, Spanish priests, particularly a Catholic priest named Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, established more than twenty missions in the area called the Pimeria Alta, which means the upper lands of the Pimian Indians that is now known as Southern Arizona U.S.A and Northern Sonora, Mexico. Unfortunately, due to several factors, only four of those structures have been left intact and these are the San Xavier del Bac Mission, San Jos de Tumaccori, San Cayetano de Calabazas, and Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi.
Who was Father Eusebio Francisco Kino? Father Kino was born in a small village in Segno, Italy on the 10th of August in the year 1645. Actually, his parents named him Eusebio Francesco Chini, which was later changed to its German version Eusebio Francisco Kino. This change might be because he studied in Austria, a country in which German is the national language. He belonged to a rich family and was sent to a Jesuit school and later on to Hala, near the German border. When he was in his middle teenage years, he got seriously ill. While he was sick, he made a promise to himself that if he survived the illness, he would become a missionary. After he recovered, he fulfilled his vow and became a priest. He was then assigned to help spread Christianity in Mexico in the year 1683. He started building missions across Pimeria Alta from 1687 until his death at Sonora in 1711.
One of the oldest remaining missions in Arizona today is San Xavier del Bac Mission. It is fondly called by some as the "White Dove of the Desert" because of its white facade. It was first built about 3 centuries ago and it is still amazingly beautiful and functional. Even today, it is still used as a church. Years later, San Jos de Tumaccori and Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi were both built in 1691 while San Cayetano de Calabazas was built in 1756.
Where specifically can these missions be found in Arizona? San Xavier del Bac Mission can be found near the city of Tucson. It is a little over 8 miles from the city. The three other missions can all be found in the Tumaccori National Historical Park in Santa Cruz Valley. The park is also near Tucson and is quite a popular tourist spot. All four Arizona missions are quite popular because of their sheer beauty and historic significance. Hundreds of both devotees and the "simply curious" sort visit these magnificent historic places every day.
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