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 Mayor—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 conserve and preserve the interior and exterior of the Mission forever.
Much remains to be conserved and preserved: 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
Nonprofit Patronato San Xavier was founded by Southern Arizona community leaders in 1978. Patronato funds and directs ethical conservation, conducts scientific research, and conveys the significance of Mission San Xavier del Bac, a National Historic Landmark in the community of Wa:k, part of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Patronato is a non-sectarian non-denominational 501(c)(3) and does not receive sustaining support from any government or religious organization.
Fast Facts about Patronato & Preservation of the Mission
The National Fund for Sacred Places selected 13 congregations and nonprofits, including Patronato San Xavier on behalf of Mission San Xavier, from a field of 178 applicants to participate in a national historic preservation grant-making program.
Patronato established The 1783 Society to recognize generous people who are choosing to leave a legacy in their will, trust or estate plan or to make a current gift of $10,000 or more to the Patronato’s Endowment Fund.
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 conservation and preservation of the interior and exterior 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 conservation and 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 conserve 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 conserve and preserve 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 conservation and restoration project begins at Mission San Xavier.