Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Tumacacori National Monument

Below is a photograph of the church that is now part of Tumacacori National Monument. The monument is 20 miles north of Nogales and the Arizona-Mexico border. The church was built in the late 1700s under the supervision of the Franciscan priests of the Spanish empire, and was never fully completed (the region was steadily entering a period of lawlessness at the time). But the root of the mission at Tumacacori goes back to the foundations that Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino (1645-1711) had laid earlier.

The Pima Indians did the actual construction, and something of their style would have surely made its way into the building of the church. The presence of the church in what was then the land of the Pima Indians brings to fore the theme of a revealed religion (specifically Islam or Christianity) ushering in new ideas, new ways of viewing things, but also attempting to erase centuries-old, perhaps millennia-old, earth religions and beliefs. The theme is a persistent one in history.

I visited the church last December; it made me think of the Spanish presence in southern Arizona, and spurred me on to research the history of the time. For more details on this, see posts 1 and 2.

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