As a boy I looked upward towards the sumptuous ceiling of Immaculate Conception Church , my father’s parish church in the Italian American community of Trenton NJ. I was moved beyond belief , the incense became more aromatic , the songbook more inspiring, the gospel readings more personally encouraging.
Today upon entering the desert church of the Mission San Xavier in Tucson Arizona, I felt that familiar tingle of faith synchronized with art creating an exhilarating sensation. My Catholicism is intertwined with my art making and with my life . At times , foolishly, I’ve tried to distance myself from my faith , but the saints , they come a knocking and will not be ignored .
Inside this treasure of a church , my iPhone clicking away in the most secular vulgar fashion I looked about at the faithful reciting their rosary , the earnest supplication for divine intercession and the pinning of milagros upon the reliquary of the mission’s patron and I felt a sense of shame , of coarseness. Amidst such sincerity , my appreciation for the art clouded the balm my soul was being offered .
Silencing my phone , I sat upon the wooden pews and allowed the spirit of the place , one enriched by countless testaments of faith , to sink in .
The following images were taken before the intercession of spirit .
Below, the central altar .
La Dolorosa, circa 1750, east transept
Jesús Nazareno, west transept
I admire the rich and exuberant ornament surrounding this santo.
Elsewhere art abounds.
One of an angelic pair flanking the main altar.
The fonts shaped as shells I believe , notice the diapered wainscot.
How sweet is this angel ? One of many charmingly depicted.
As you can see below and in other images this is an active church , faith engaged daily , in this case festively for the celebration of our Savior’s birth .
The baptismal font curious and marvelous.
The choir loft equally enchanting.
As is so often the case , this mission’s dazzling interiors are enhanced by austere splendor of the exterior , the sunlit majesty of this mission is incredibly inspiring .
There was a side chapel , I don’t know it’s history , I’m , we’re , now reading histories of the place to be better acquainted for future visits , but we both were moved to tears by the power of the place . The passionate pleas laid bare in this modest sanctuary. No inkling present to document this sacred hallowed ground by pulling out my phone , so instead this side altar to my patron saint must suffice .
With that , I sign off.