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!
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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