Mission to Arizona, 1916-1940: Father Augustine Schwarz, O.F.M.

Mission to Papaguería: San Xavier del Bac


photograph
LAB MSS-153/18:93

Mission San Xavier del Bac, affectionately known as the White Dove of the Desert, forms the backdrop for the yearly festival, Day of Saint Francis Xavier. It is always held on December 3, and often lasts three days since whole families must travel many miles from remote spots on the huge Papago reservation. By tradition, a fiesta follows the religious ceremony. The same ceremony is repeated year after year, and we learn that Father Schwarz was in attendance in 1939 representing Topowa Mission, where he was then serving as Superior of the Papago Missions.

photograph
LAB MSS-153/18:94

Most of the residents from the nearby Yaqui village, Pascua Pueblo, traveled to San Xavier to join the festivities. A number of Yaqui ceremonial dancers joined them and can be seen in Father Schwarz' 1919 photograph. The dancers usually are accompanied by a band, which contains a flute, zymboline, drum, violin, and guitar. It is said that the music resembles an Irish jig in tempo and is played over and over again without a beginning or ending.

photograph
LAB FILM S104:182 San Xavier, 1973

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