Saturday, October 29, 2011

Historic Churches of old Santa Fe

Santa Fe is about 40 miles northeast of Albuquerque. We felt that there was a lot to be seen in the capitol city so we made the trip yesterday. Our entire day was pretty much spent walking around the older section of Santa Fe, which we found to be somewhat similar to old Albuquerque's town square,although much bigger. In that section there are historic buildings and museums, among which include several Catholic churches. Santa Fe is sometimes called the Royal City of the Holy Faith, translated into Spanish it is referred to as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi. I will first start here with San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the United States. At the time of its construction the old Santa Fe trail passed in front of it. It was built in 1610, when the town was founded. Part of the structure was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but it was rebuilt after the Spanish reconquest in 1692.
The Cathedral Basilica of St.Francis of Assisi is also in the older section of town. The congregation was established also in 1610, but the building itself has been rebuilt a couple of times. I really liked the baptismal fountain and pool which located in the center of the nave. The font is located on an axis between the church doors and the altar to remind us of our baptismal journey. The pool is cruciform in shape.
 It was through the initiative of Archbishop Lamy in 1875 that the cathedral was expanded from a simple adobe building into the large stone structure which it is today. He is buried in a crypt below the cathedral floor. His name has become famous by the book Death Comes to the Archbishop written by Willa Cather in 1926. The last church I want to mention here, the Loretto Chapel, has a circular staircase which is a marvel of beauty and construction. The top of the staircase rests against the loft at the top and on the floor at the bottom where its entire weight seems to be supported. It has no center support and has 33 steps and makes two complete 360 degree turns. It has been the subject of a book and movie.

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