Nuestro Padre San Francisco de Átil

historic photo of church with exposed adobe ruins of older church to the left

Referred to in Jesuit records as Los Siete Príncipes del Áti (The Seven Archangels of Áti), the patronage of this mission was apparently changed to that of San Francisco of Assisi when the Franciscans arrived in 1768 and made it a cabecera with a visita at Oquitoa. Spelling of the name varied between Áti and Átil. There is no evidence of a church having been built ther in Father Kino's day, although it was reported in 1730 that construction of such a building had been started.

"What is known for sure is that the church and missionary's residence at Átil, whose slowly melting adobe ruins can still be seen, were built under the administration of Father Jacobo Sedelmayr of Tubutama when Átil was its visita. This structure, although now in ruins, has special appeal in that it was the home base from 1756 to 1761 for one of Pimería Alta's more literary Jesuit missionaries, Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn, whose 'Sonora: A Description of the Province' (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1989) is a regional classic. (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 Pimeria Alta. Following is his report on San Francisco de Átil as translated by Father Kieran McCarty:

The Mission at Áti, with one outlying mission station, is situated in a valley six or seven leagues long and two or three league wide, surrounded by high mountains, watered by an arroyo with good and plentiful water. Four leagues to the east and a little to the north lies the above described Mission at Tubutama and seven leagues to the west and a little to the south, the Presidio of Altar. The village at Áti might well be the most pleasant and prosperous settlement of Upper Pimería but its products at the present time have dwindled to whatever the Indians individually and communally wish to produce, which is very little or nothing at all. The equipment in the sacristy consists of a chalice of silver, a copper censer, three old chasubles, an alb, an amice, and other adornments almost unserviceable for the altar and divine services. According to the Census Book, which I have here before me, there are thirty-six married couples, seven widowers, two widows, fifteen orphans, the number of souls in all one hundred thirty-seven.

"In 1797, when Father Francisco Yturralde made his official visit, Átil was again a cabecera with two resident missionaries. The Father Visitor said the church and its sacristy formed 'two suitable rooms.' The walls and floor were of adobe and the roof was made of wooden beams." (The Pimería Alta: Southwestern Mission Research Center)

Last updated: May 14, 2020

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