Tohono O'odham Nation celebrates St. Francis feast day following pilgrimage to Mexico
Hundreds of cars parked in front of San Xavier del Bac Mission at the Tohono O’odham Nation's San Xavier Indian Reservation on Wednesday evening. It was the Feast Day for St. Francis, a religious holiday shared among Mexican communities, too. He’s considered to be their patron saint.
The festivities involve a pilgrimage walking 120 miles, south of Tucson, from here, to Magdalena de Kino, a city in Mexico, to kiss the head of a statue resembling his likeness. The completion of that days-long round-trip culminates with a celebration for those who had enough faith to travel through the Sonora Desert and back.
Loud bells began chiming from the 18th century Catholic white stucco church, followed by a barrage of fireworks bursting overhead. Then a crowd formed a large circle engulfing a procession led by men shaking maracas and strumming string instruments, carrying a carving of St. Francis around the masses before returning to the mission building.