Western states, unlike along the eastern seaboard or New England, you don’t see
many historic sites chronicling European exploration with dates in the early 1500s, 1600s, and early 1700s when the Europeans were settling what would eventually become the United States of America.
south of what is now Tucson, Arizona as long ago
1700, it was Father Alonso Espinosa who actually began building the first church of any
substance in 1756. Father Francisco Garces arrived in 1768 and became its first
years, was begun during the American Revolution clear over on the East Coast, in 1776 and wasn’t completed until 1797. It is an outstanding
example of Spanish baroque architecture, with elegant arches, domes, and twin bell
towers (one left unfinished). Inside resides a historically priceless
collection of Mexican baroque art, frescoes, and wooden carvings. An ongoing process of restoration begun in the early 1990s
is restoring the original luster to the 200-plus year-old art.
white walls have given it the name “The White Dove of the Desert,” and
it still serves the Tohono O’odham today with daily masses.
when services are not in progress. Drive nine miles south of Tucson on I-19 and
take exit 92. Turn west for one mile.
The church is open daily 8AM to 6PM. Admission is free and donations are accepted.
makeshift market of native jewelry, pottery,
arts and crafts, and several food booths featuring Indian fry bread.