Saints at San Xavier del Bac – Folk Art in a Mission Church

Carving,  Mission San Xavier del Bac

Katerina Tekawitha Carving

There are many statues of saints in the church, San Xavier del Bac, on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation. All are wood carvings, and many are painted in bright colors.

Interior Statue,  Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mary at Mission San Xavier del Bac

The walls are also painted, lots of reds, blues, yellows. Many of the statues are in alcoves with carved and painted drapes and curtains.

Offerings,  Mission San Xavier del Bac

Candles and Offerings

Rows and rows of candles illuminate the intentions of the faithful. Again, this statue is in an alcove decorated with carved draperies, and flanked by winged angels. The entire church is unbelievably rich in art considering it was created in the 18th century by New Spain, Mexican, and Native American artisans.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is living in Tucson for two months, exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and living life “solo.”  Exploring new places, new ideas, new art every day. I love going on my “explores”.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Such beauty there, Bo. Though I’ve visited that church your photographs are showing me things I missed the first time around. It’s hard to take everything in there, the interior is so rich with colorful artistic renderings and statues. The colors are breathtaking. Thank you so much.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It is impossible to take it all in in one trip, Debi. It is a totally amazing place. I have plans to visit today since it is partly cloudy. Hoping to get some photos without all that intense sunlight!

      And you are so very welcome!

  2. Joanne Keevers says:

    Do you know if it was the Native Americans who make the carved statues, Bo? Or are they responsible only for the paining and decorating? So much care has obviously gone into creativing a breathtaking place of worship. Just beautiful.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Artisans from New Spain (now, of course, Mexico) came north and were first responsible for designing the statuary and then training the T’Oodham to do much of the carving and decorating. It is an awe-inspiring place.

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