The San Xavier Mission is also known as the white dove of the desert. It’s considered by many art historians to be the most beautiful mission in the country.

Inside the church, many visitors see the reclining statue in the glass case in the west transept, and think it’s a mummy of some kind. The real story is even better. It’s a statue of the crucified Christ, and was originally at Tumacacori Mission (now Tumacacori National Historical Park, partway to Nogales).

When that community was abandoned in 1849 due to Apache raiding, the people moved to San Xavier, bringing their saints with them. Along the way, the statue of Christ lost its legs. By the 1890s, it was displayed in the west transept as the entombed Christ.

Around the time of World War I, the statue was redefined as a reclining St. Francis Xavier, placed in a glass case, and there it remains, the object of considerable popular devotion. Jim Griffith for the Arizona Daily Star

Some visitors to the Mission have adorned the statue with milagros. My version of this scene has St. Francis  floating in the sky over the mission, as a white dove flies above him. I saw a white dove in a  store that sold miniatures and thought that it worked perfectly for the painting… now a collage?

St Francis with Dove

Title: San Xavier del Bac

Size: 29 x 41"

Date: 1989