Growing up Catholic, I was always taught that all Catholic churches across the world were the exact same. But after stepping into the Mission San Xavier Church today, that statement just did not hold true. The striking differences that I notices were the lack of the stations of the cross and paintings/figurines of Native Americans who appeared to be worshiped or treated equal to other saints. This truly showed the blend of Tohono O’odham culture with the Catholic faith. This church, like most Catholic Cathedrals, has exquisitely detailed carvings and decorations throughout the church that draws the attention of a viewer frontward and narrows their looking toward the crucifixion or a saint. The extravagant nature of the Catholic church still held true.
Saint Francis, an important saint for the Tohono O’odham people, had his own shrine on the left side of the church. They had a carving of his body laying at rest in all white. Typically, Catholics would go pray in front of these shrines and ask for the assistance of the Saint in their life. This just shows the importance of Saint Francis to their culture because he is the chosen Saint that is asked to help the Tohono O’odham people. While there, I saw several people going to light a candle at the foot of the shrines of Saint Francis and Mary or already lit candles. In the Catholic faith, a lit candle indicates that someone is praying. This just shows the amount of prayers that had been offered to these Saints, typically asking them for help.
On a less analytical note, the animals at the Desert Museum were awesome.