San Ignacio de Cabúrica (known as San Ignacio)

black and white historic photo of mission church with 4-story large bell tower

Father Kino was at San Ignacio in 1687 the day after he first arrived at Dolores. It was three years before a missionary was placed in charge of it, however, and three more years before anyone was permanently assigned. Whatever church may have existed before 1693 when Father Agustín de Campos began his incredible forty-three-year tenure at San Ignacio is likely to have been no more than a ramada. It is not even clear if a religious structure was in existence in 1695 when the O'odham rebelled throughout the Pimería Alta. Kino mentions that Father Campos escaped with his soldier escort, and that houses, storerooms, and three sets of vestments were burned, but says nothing about a church.

"There was no proper house of worship in 1699, but in August of 1702, Father Campos buried San Xavier del Bac's first minister, Francisco Gonzalvo, on the gospel side in front of the altar of San Ignacio's church. The building was described in 1730 as being "deteriorated', and six years later, Father Campos, in ill health and, in the minds of many of his fellow Jesuits, in failing mental condition, was removed from his post in spite of O'odham protests at losing their minister.

"Father Campos's replacement at San Ignacio was Father Gaspar Stiger. He remained there until his death in 1762 and was succeeded by Francisco Pauer who was in charge at San Ignacio until the Jesuit expulsion in 1767. When the Franciscans took over in 1768, San Ignacio was made the cabecera while Santa María Magdalena and San José de Ímuris were its visitas." (The Pimeria Alta: Southwestern Mission Research Center)

Bishop Antonio de los Reyes on 6 July 1772 wrote a report on the condition of the missions in the Upper and Lower Pimería. Following is his report on San Ignacio de Cabórica as translated by Father Kieran McCarty:

The Mission of San Ignacio, with two outlying mission stations, is located on an extensive lowland surrounded by high mountains. An arroyo flows by these villages and it offers easy irrigation for the plentiful and fertile lands of the same. To the east of this Mission, at a distance of twelve leagues, lies the village of Cocóspera of the destroyed Mission Santa Maria at Suamca. To the west, and a little to the south, at a distance of five leagues, a few Spaniards and other whites have settled on a ranch, or breeding farm, for cattle, and horses. This place is popularly called the town of Santa Ana. There is neither church nor minister of the Doctrine. To the south, and a little to the east, is the Mission of Cucurpe fifteen leagues away, and to the north the pagan nations and the whole territory explored as far as the Gila River. The village of San Ignacio is situated on high ground bordered on the north by high mountains. The Indians cultivate their individual fields and communally they sow Indian corn, wheat, beans, and other crops. The church is adorned on the inside with three small side chapels. In the sacristy are four chalices, four candlesticks, a pyx, and sanctuary lamp, a censer, a monstrance, and baptismal shell - all of silver - vestments of every kind and color with other adornments sufficient for the altar and divine services. The house of the Father Missionary is beside the church but in the recent year of 1770 some of the living rooms and offices beside the house of the Missionary were destroyed. There is a garden with plentiful pomegranate, quince, peaches, and for want of cultivation a good grapevine was lost. According to the Census Book, which I have here before me, there are thirty-six married couples, four widowers, seven widows and fifteen orphans, the number of souls in all, one hundred forty-eight.

Father Francisco Sánchez Zúñiga arrived at San Ignacio in 1772 and either made major alterations on the old structure or built an entirely new one - more likely the former - before his departure in 1780. This lovely barrel vaulted and domed edifice, one which features a mesquite spiral staircase leading to the roof in its west tower, is that which visitors to San Ignacio see today. Given that most of the walls are of sun-dried adobe veneered on the exterior with fired bricks, the physical evidence makes it appear most probable that Father Sánchez Zúñiga did for San Ignacio what Father Santiesteban did later for Cocóspera: he made a Franciscan church out of a Jesuit one. Certainly the face, barrel vault, dome and towers, all of burned brick and lime mortar, can be attributed to Father Sánchez. Whether the adobe church so extensively remodeled between 1772 and 1780 was that built by Father Campos and consistently maintained, with alterations, by his Jesuit successors or is a later Jesuit construction is presently impossible to say." (The Pimeria Alta: Southwestern Mission Research Center)

Last updated: May 14, 2020

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