University of Arizona

                                             Special Collections will be closed December 20, 2023 through January 1, 2024 in observance of the University Holiday break.

Patronato San Xavier Collection


Patronato San Xavier is a non-sectarian, non-profit corporation which was formed in June, 1978. The corporation was formed to be used for historical, research, scientific and educational purposes concerned with the restoration, maintenance and preservation of Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, Arizona. The founders of Patronato San Xavier recognized that the mission was in need of the maintenance and repair which was financially beyond the abilities of the Franciscan Friars who ran the mission. The founders of Patronato San Xavier included James M. Murphy, A Tucson attorney and historian; Emil W. Haury, a former director of the Arizona State Museum and head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Anthropology; Watson Smith, attorney and archaeologist; Jane Ivancovich, a Tucson philanthropist; Dianne Bret Harte, an editorial assistant at the Arizona Historical Society; and Bernard L. Fontana who was ethnologist in the Arizona State Museum. These people along with two Franciscan priests at Mission San Xavier del Bac, Father Kieran R. McCarty and Father Celestine Chinn, were the Patronato's first board of directors.

In 1985, Patronato San Xavier commissioned a study by art conservators Gloria Giffords and Miguel Celorio which resulted in an effort to raise funds through foundation, corporate, and private donations for restorations and conservation on the mission’s interior and exterior as well as the sculptural art held within. This effort which began in 1992 and was completed in 1997 was organized and coordinated by Paul Schwartzbaum. Patronato San Xavier is still active and committed to its mission of conserving the San Xavier del Bac.

This collection is comprised of the papers of Patronato San Xavier. The majority of the collection relates directly to the corporation’s conservation and restoration efforts of the San Xavier del Bac. The collection contains the agendas and minutes of meetings held by the Board of Directors which gives insight to the plans towards conserving the san Xavier del Bac and outreach efforts the corporation made to local community groups. This notion of outreach and community involvement is further illuminated by the correspondence held within the collection. The Patronato San Xavier’s mission included not only conserving and restoring the San Xavier del Bac and its artworks, but also making the public aware of the necessity of conserving this unique landmark which was done in part through corresponding with various community groups and leaders. This collection also includes many financial statements, including fund raising efforts and grant proposals by the corporation. These documents display the tireless and imaginative efforts of the corporation towards establishing the San Xavier del Bac as a landmark that must be utilized by researchers, schools, and people in general and one that is worthy of conserving for use by future generations. This collection primarily consists of papers, but also includes photographs, brochures, and building drawings. The conservation efforts of the Patronanto San Xavier are displayed through the Building Plans and Condition Reports subseries which detail the steps and planning necessary towards restoring and conserving portions of the San Xavier del Bac that began in 1992 and was concluded in 1997.