Saturday, May 22, 2010

Round Robin: Saints, Missionaries and Statues That Remember Them

For Round Robin Challenge: Statues, I asked folks to "photograph a statue of some sort. It can be as large as the Sphinx in Egypt, or as small as a bowling trophy." When I first proposed the topic two years ago, I had already photographed a number of statues, some for a "Public Art" Challenge, others for other reasons and purposes. This time out, though, I want to focus on the confluence of statues, religion and history. After all, I live in Tucson, where religion played a pretty large role in local history. When people want to commemorate historical figures, they often do the same thing as people who want to commemorate saints. They make statues!

Let's start at good old St. Michael and All Angels Church, established in 1953. The place has more than a few items of donated religious art, including a number of statues, more properly called icons. Some of them are in better shape than others. My absolute favorite is one that's tucked away in a cardboard box, under a table used to prepare bags of food for the needy. It seems serenely unconcerned about its headless condition as it blesses the work that sometimes goes on above it.

And here is St. Michael himself, looking a bit cherubic as he guards the west side of the memorial garden.

Here is a statue I've wanted to photograph for about twenty years, but didn't until today. The man on the horse is Eusebio Francisco Kino S.J. (1654-1711), best known to Tucsonans as simply "Father Kino." It amuses and frustrates me that the hat the man wore to keep the sun off his face performs the same function on his statue. The artist, by the way, is Julian Martinez of Mexico. The statue is dated 1988, two years after we moved out here.

A Jesuit missionary, Padre Kino traveled around the Southwest on both sides of the modern border between Mexico and the U.S., bringing Christianity and farming techniques to the indigenous peoples he found there. Unlike the Spanish Conquistadors, he opposed the exploitation of the tribes as a source of forced labor. Father Kino's travels led to the development of roads in the region, and the eventual establishment of Tucson as a non-native settlement.

From Mission San Xavier del Bac

One of the Missions started by Father Kino was Mission San Xavier del Bac, nine miles south of Tucson. The present church was built by natives nearly a century later, in the late 1700s, under the direction of Franciscan priests. Little is known about the designers and artisans behind the many ornate details, including the four statues you can see in the photo above, in the reddish central section of the front of the mission. Today the church serves the Tohono O'odham Nation, descendants of the original local population Father Kino served back in 1699.

Like the Saint Under the Table, one of the statues in the alcoves in front of the mission has lost its head.

Inside are many religious icons, statues and frescoes, most in better condition than the headless saint.

I was only at Mission San Xavier del Bac for about ten minutes today, but I got a few more decent shots you may care to check out. One of these days I'll make a proper visit and do a full gallery of images from this historic treasure.

And lest you think only Catholics are significant to the history of the Southwest, here's a closeup of the Mormon Battalion Monument in El Presidio Park, behind the old courthouse.

Now let's go see what statues the other Robins found!

Linking List
as of Sunday, May 23nd, 11:22 MST/PDT (Carly)

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Rich **Welcome, New Player!** - Posted

Dawn - Posted!
Dawn Elliott Photography

ellen b. - Posted!
The Happy Wonderer

Sherrie - Posted!
Sherrie's Stuff

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Suzanne R - Posted!
SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Sandy - Posted!
From the Heart of Texas

Erin **Welcome, New Player!** - Posted
A Hardcore Life

carolynUSA - Posted!
Ford Family Photos

Peggy - Posted!
Holmespun Fun Memes and Themes

Carly - Posted!

maryt/theteach - Posted!
Mary Tomaselli Photos

Manang Kim (new blog) - Posted
At my Tabletop

Hip chick
hip chick's photos

Ruth - Posted!

Gattina - Posted!
KEYHOLE PICTURES (photos only)

Duane - Posted!

Cheryl Ann **Welcome, New Player** - Posted!

Cheryl Ann - Posted!
Deserts and Beyond
And in case you're interested, here are more photos of Tucson statues:

RRPC: Public Art, Privately Provided, Part One

RRPC: Public Art, Privately Provided, Part Two

A Reid Park Ramble, continued

Two from Tombstone



Rich said...

Hi Karen, you have some nice captures there, I particually like the snap of St' Michael, with the sun lighting from behind.

Manang Kim said...

I love those statues. And it's very interesting I saw this in one post. Great shot too. Thanks for sharing!

Round Robin~Statue

ellen b said...

What a very cool old mission church. I really enjoyed reading about Padre Kino, too. That is too bad about his hat shading his face :0)

Sherrie said...

Hi Karen,
Those are some beautiful statues. The artwork is gorgeous. Have a great day!

Sherrie's Stuff

Carolyn Ford said...

The missions certainly are rich in statues. The California Missions, the same. The perspective you chose on these is so good. Lovely Tucson never disappoints!

maryt/theteach said...

Karen, thank you for the theme this week. My hobby is photographing cemetery statuary. Your photos are magnficent! I love your first shot and your commentary about it! :)

Sandy said...

Beautiful statues and artwork! The church is fabulous!

Suzanne R said...

You had many lovely statues to photograph. I am always fascinated by the headless statues and wonder what their heads had looked like. I have ancestors that were in the Mormon Battalion, and my father and mother were in the commemorating group in official positions while my father was living. The statue you photographed brought back memories.

Jama said...

The statues are piece of art! too bad about the missing heads, they should be preserved for the next generations.