Absorbing the beauty and inspiring art of Mission San Xavier today is a far cry from the way you would have experienced it 40 years ago.
Details now readily seen—vibrant colors, rich murals and glints of gold on the Retablo Mayer—were barely discernible because two centuries of candle smoke, dust, water seepage and general neglect had rendered the interior walls of the Church almost black. Sensing the imminent destruction of the interior of Mission San Xavier, a group of community leaders formed the nonprofit Patronato San Xavier to restore the exterior and conserve the interior of the Mission forever.
Much remains to be restored: the East Tower, the ornate facade, the East Wing (built with beams and adobe from the first church built at the Mission), the Mortuary Chapel, the adobe walls, and the 19th century administrative wing. Patronato also is building a permanent endowment to provide for on-going preservation and maintenance needs at the Mission.
Patronato San Xavier
The Patronato is a nonsectarian, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded by Southern Arizona community leaders in 1978. The Patronato’s only purpose is to promote the preservation and maintenance of Mission San Xavier del Bac, a National Historic Landmark near Tucson, Arizona that was named to the global World Monuments Fund “Watch” list of cultural heritage sites at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political and economic change.
Fast Facts about Patronato & the Mission
The Mission was named to the prestigious World Monuments Fund (WMF) 2016 World Monuments Watch.
Since its founding in 1978, Patronato has raised more than $11 million for the restoration of the exterior and conservation of the interior of Mission San Xavier.
The White Dove Campaign begins to raise the $3 million needed for extensive repair of the East Tower of the Mission.
Patronato is honored with a Governor’s Centennial Award to acknowledge “outstanding achievements in the preservation of Arizona historic and prehistoric cultural resources.”
A free San Xavier Tour Program run by docents is established.
The 15th Anniversary of the Christmas Concerts at the Mission is celebrated.
A Save America’s Treasures grant, matched by gifts from individuals and organizations, allows Morales Restoration and Builders to repair and refinish the West Tower.
Patronato-sponsored Annual Spring Concerts begin in 2009.
Morales Restoration and Builders receive a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for long-term achievement.
The National Trust honors Patronato with a National Preservation Award for “painstaking exterior and interior restoration” of a national historic landmark.
The interior preservation is completed. A Getty grant–matched by gifts from generous individuals and organizations–saves precious art and statuary.
Patronato hires Guggenheim conservator Paul Schwartzbaum and a team of international art conservators preserve and clean the church interior.
Morales Restoration and Builders begin work on the exterior surfaces of the Mission: roof, walls of the apse, side chapels, and nave–before interior work can begin.
Art conservator Gloria Giffords and historian Miguel Celorio issue an extensive report about the Mission interior, which details what must be done to restore and preserve the interior.
With seed funds from the Pew family, six Tucson community leaders start Patronato San Xavier as a non-profit, non-sectarian corporation with the sole purpose to preserve and restore Mission San Xavier Del Bac.
The National Park Service names the Mission one of the original 13 National Historic Landmarks.
Under Henri Granjon, the bishop of the new Diocese of Tucson, a major restoration of the Mission begins.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet open school at the Mission. The nuns who operate the school today are Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
Tucson becomes an incipient diocese and clergy regularly visit the Mission and conduct services.
The Mission falls under the jurisdiction of the United States and the Diocese of Santa Fe and the first fixes to the structure begin.
Funds are exhausted, work stops, and the church opens its doors for services.
Franciscan father Juan Bautista Llorens begins overseeing the decoration of the interior of the church.
Under the direction of Franciscan Father Juan Baptiste Velderrain, construction of the great church begins, paid for with 7,000 pesos borrowed from a Sonoran rancher.
Father Alonso Espinosa, a Jesuit, builds the first church−a one-room adobe mud hut structure−on the Mission site in.
Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino establishes the Mission San Xavier Del Bac.