Although our sunset shoot was a bit disappointing when we couldn’t find our saguaro forest, we were not done shooting.   Looking for inspiration, we headed to the San Xavier Mission.

The San Xavier Mission is a National Historic Landmark founded the late 1600s with the Church constructed in the late 1700’s.  It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, and retains it’s original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners. With over 200,000 visitors a year and a full mass schedule on the weekends, we knew it would be a challenge to isolate and shoot without any people in the photos. Sunrise was our best option.

The San Xavier Mission sits on a rise in the valley. With it’s white washed bell towers is can be seen for miles. It’s beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture makes it a prominent icon just south of Tucson. Surrounded by several mountain ranges, the scenery is breathtaking.  It is also peaceful (especially before dawn). In the twilight, only the cross at the top of the mission was lit – lending a holy aura to the predawn hour.

San Xavier Mission at Twilight

San Xavier Mission at Twilight with only the cross lit

The main church is quite striking but so too is this scene just to the left of the main church.

And so we waited… as the twilight faded a few clouds appeared and began to glow a rich pink.  Just as the pink clouds moved over the Mission Church, the sun broke across the valley lighting up the face of the building.  Mass had just started and the clouds lit by the sun hovered in the shape of a dove over the bell towers. It was as if the spirit of God was descending on his people.

San Xavier Mission Aglow - with the dove like clouds descending

San Xavier Mission Aglow – with the dove like clouds descending

Once again, it is all about the light (and the clouds).


Visit the San Xavier Mission website for more on the history of the mission.