We took our relatives who were visiting from the US to Betis Church in between our food tasting of kapangpangan cuisine. And as we walked down the aisle, they immediately exclaimed that the church reminded them of San Xavier Mission. So when it was our turn to visit them, a drive to see the mission in Tucson, Arizona was arranged.
Like Betis, San Xavier is an example of a Baroque church. It has ornate and vivid sculptures, carvings and mural paintings with three hundred angels and over a hundred saints. But instead of being in the middle of a busy town, it is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Dry soil. Scorching sun. Clear sky. And the starched white towers. It is also in the middle of the Tohono O’odham Indian settlement. Having the local tribe help construct the church, a mixture of Mexican and American Indian artistry is therefore reflected on its décor.
Though founded in 1699, the church was only built from 1783 until 1797 and has survived earthquakes, floods and lightning over time. It is the oldest European structure in Arizona and is considered as one of the best Spanish mission architecture in the US. It carries the titles “The White Dove of the Desert” and “The Sistine Chapel of America.” San Xavier Mission is a National Historic Landmark.