December 16, 2011

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson. March, 2011

I’d been to the San Xavier Mission several times before with Simon and David, but had never wandered much beyond the church. And the gift shop. So this time, when Simon and I drove out there on a whim late one Sunday afternoon, we took a brief hike around the small, cross-topped hill just off to the side of the parking lot. Along the way, this grotto, fenced off and housing a statue of the Virgin and these many offerings to her. Artificial flowers, rosaries, items of clothing (from bandanas to gym socks), photos, other personal curios, all left in hopes of blessings. Way in the back there you can just glimpse some votive candles, glass cylinders placed there by some keyholder, probably lit for the occasional services within the grotto. Also to the side, a statue of a young girl, kneeling, praying to the apparition. Who could it be? Bernadette of Lourdes? One of the Fatima kids? The main virgen honored in these parts is Our Lady of Guadalupe, but she was seen by a man. No explanation. The only sign thereabouts was a request: Please Respect this Sacred Place.

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