I recently returned from two days in northern Sonora, Mexico, where I visited seven missions built by Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino. With the four I have visited in Arizona, this brings the number I have visited to eleven of the more than 20 he built. I will begin in Caborca and work my way back to Tucson.
La Purisma Concepcion De Caborca was founded in 1693 and the structure completed in 1809. This was the only one of the missions visited on this trip where I did not have optimal light, due to our early morning arrival, so this is an oblique shot from the rear.
Just east of Caborca is the mission San Diego De Piquito, constructed in the 1780’s. The interior is filled with paintings, so I was disappointed not to have access.
The San Antonio De Oquitoa mission sits in the middle of a picturesque cementerio, and is the oldest of the missions still in use, built before 1767.
Further north is the mission San Pedro Y San Pablo De Tubutama. Thanks to the delightful 82 year old Maria Elena, I was able to gain access to the interior, with its intricately sculpted plaster walls and ceilings. There is also a small gift shop adjacent, where I found this historic photo Of the 1780’s mission.
Here it is today.
and this is Maria Elena, who has lived in Tubutama for half her life.
Santa Maria Magdalena is probably the best known of the Sonoran missions. It was built in the 1830’s and has been heavily modified. There is a small building in the adjacent park where one can see what are allegedly the bones of Father Kino in a glass covered hole, and there is a famous yearly pilgrimage on October 4th to honor St. Francis Xavier.
Just north of Magdalena is San Ignacio De Caborica, where I was allowed in by a local resident who had the key, and permitted to climb the bell tower via an ancient mesquite staircase. This mission was built in the late 1800’s.
Finally, the northernmost of the missions we visited, and the only one no longer in use, the ruined Santiago Y Nuestra Señora De Pilar De Cocospera, begun in 1695, but burned in a series of Apache attacks soon after, and abandoned in 1845.
I hope you have enjoyed my little trip through some of the missions of northern Sonora. It was a very enjoyable couple of days for me, and I plan to return to seek out some of the lesser known missions.