I left Interstate 10 at Exit 260 in Tucson and headed south on Interstate 19. At Exit 92 I headed west and drove about one mile to the oldest continuously occupied church in North America - San Xavier del Bac. More than 200 years ago, Franciscans picked this site to build their mission and start construction of the present adobe church called “White Dove of the Desert.” From the outside, a white dome is a landmark that can be seen for miles. Only one steeple was ever finished, affecting the symmetry but not the beauty of the architecture. The workers never finished building the east bell tower, so only one completed tower rises above the facade. With the right camera angle, it is not noticeable. To the east of the cathedral is a wide trail that climbs to an overlook on a nearby hill. This easy climb leads to a view that includes the white dome at the rear of the building that is not seen from the front. Thunder storms blown in from the Gulf are common in southern Arizona during the monsoon season, a welcome addition to a clear desert sky over San Xavier.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.