Santa María de Magdalena

Magdalena is famous because it contains the burial place of Fr. Kino.

Visitors can see his bones under a glass-encased ramada in the main plaza.  Although Fr. Kino’s remains were discovered there in the 1960s, Magdalena was never a cabecera but rather a visita throughout the Jesuit period.  The church and residence was built in 1705 under the direction of Fr. Campos.  Fr. Kino even personally helped out with the planning and construction.

In 1772 Franciscan Fr. Reyes wrote that only the chapel to S. Francisco had any decent furnishings, while Fr. Font described in detail the attacks on Magdalena by the Apaches, Seris, and O’odham in the mid-1770s.  They attackers broke the arm of the statue of San Francisco as well as the baptismal font and some candlesticks.

All traces of the 1705 structure have since disappeared, although its ruins and church can be seen in various depictions rendered in 1851, 1864, and 1879 (John Russell Bartlett, John Ross Browne, Alphonse Pinart, respectively).  The chapel in which Fr. Kino was buried has also disappeared, but part of its stone footings can be viewed adjacent to his skeletal remains under roof and glass in the Kino Memorial Plaza.  The church today was the latest Franciscan structure in the Pimería Alta, having been erected between 1830 & 1832.  It was heavily remodeled in the late 1950s.

Upcoming SMRC Mission Tours

Retrace the steps of Father Kino and the missionaries who followed him. You’ll be guided by scholars and enthusiasts who know and love the region and volunteer their time to share it with others.