The United States Southwest was originally inhabited by indigenous Indians.
After Spanish explorers conquered Central and South America, they scoured the present states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah and Nevada searching for lost cities of gold.
Motivated by faith, Spanish priests established missions for the conversion of natives to Catholicism and controlled hundreds of thousands of acres of land for their Spanish King. These missions, outposts of European civilization, still operate, draw modern men seeking ancient roots.
The Mission San Xavier is south of Tucson. It’s construction was finished in 1797. One of the towers has recently been restored and funds are being saved to restore the second one.
The church interior, though small, is intimate and shows icons of the Catholic church, carved saints, candles, Holy Water, wood carvings, high ceilings and stained glass.
The Mission is in the middle of no where,but, when built, must have felt like an oasis to men on horseback wearing heavy armor, carrying swords and lances.
Early morning, courtyards are in shadows, bells are silent, doors are ajar, tourists snuggle in coats as they file into the small church.
Churches built by hand with wooden dowels seem more trustworthy than those built with power drills, metal studs, with huge HVAC systems.
The Holy Water is in a metal container, on a chair, in a hallway, with little paper cups to drink from instead of a long heavy ladle.
This water has been blessed, and, in a torrid desert landscape like this, water is always Holy, whether it is blessed or not.