Western Trips

Western Trips

Monday, February 18, 2013

Visit New Mexico / Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine

our lady of guadalupe in santa fe
Our Lady of Guadalupe
When you visit New Mexico and Santa Fe in particular, one stop you want to make is Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. The old Spanish church is even within walking distance from the plaza and is one of the most visited sites in Santa Fe. Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine is in the Santa Fe Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and is an active place of worship.

The Spanish settlers in Northern New Mexico were in many ways separated from the rest of the world for many decades. To help endure the hardship of living in such a remote and in many ways, dangerous region,  they depended on their religious faith.

First Built in 1777

Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine has the distinction of being the oldest standing shrine constructed for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mexican patron saint, in the U.S. The first church was built in 1777 along the south bank of the Santa Fe River and was a simple small adobe structure.  The adobe walls are almost three feet thick, and among the sanctuary's religious art and artifacts is a beloved image of Nuestra Virgen de Guadalupe, painted in 1773 by Mexican master Jose de Alzibar. By the early 1800's the structure was in general disrepair and wasn't appropriate to use as a church.

our lady of guadalupe shrine santa fe new mexico
Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Santa Fe NM
The History of Our Lady of Guadalupe

When the railroad arrived in Santa Fe in 1880, Archbishop Lamy dedicated the restored chapel to non-Spanish speaking Catholics. The Santuario was just down the road from the new railroad station and thus was in a position to welcome travelers who visited Santa Fe.

In 1884 a 575 pound bell was added to the church. Another bell was added in 1896. Archbishop Jean Baptista Lamy was the first Archbishop of Santa Fe. Archbishop Lamy first came to Santa Fe in 1851 just about five years after the United States took over the territory from the Mexicans. The Santa Fe Diocese was formed in 1853.The church served all the way to 1918 when it was then made an auxiliary to the the Cathedral Parish St. Francis. In 1931 the structure was again designated as a parish church but the small structure couldn't accommodate the growing population. As a result, funds were raised to build an entirely new Our lady of Guadalupe. The reconstruction was completed in 1961.

Beginning in 1961 the church was utilized for used for various secular activities. This usage continued until 1975. The property was deeded to the non-profit Guadalupe Historic Foundation in 1973 with the hopes of receiving grants for another renovation as the building was again in need of repair. The Guadalupe Historic Foundation eventually deeded the property back to the Santa Fe Archdiocese and continued to lease the building. When the lease was up in 2006, Our lady of Guadalupe Parish again returned to being a parish church. The parish church today is also utilized for cultural events such as lectures and concerts.

our lady of guadalupe statue
Our Lady of Guadalupe Statue
Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe

When you visit Our Lady of Guadalupe you'll see a beautiful twelve foot, four thousand pound statue of Our Lady in front of the Sanctuario. The statue is there today because of a long journey from Mexico City to Santa Fe in 2008. The historic journey up from Mexico City followed the old Camino Real which was the route taken to Nuevo Mexico by Spanish settlers centuries ago.

Efforts to make the statue a reality began in 2001 when funds were secured for the project. The Our Lady statue, which you view today and which was dedicated in August 2008, was created by the Mexican artist and sculptor Georgina Farias de Arellano. She was selected over Northern New Mexico artists for several reasons. Georgina had a very strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and also planned to donate her creative fees.

Links to three additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy are  the Loretto Chapel.....the History of Galisteo Mission.....and Old Town Albuquerque's San Felipe de Neri Church.

our lady of guadalupe shrine belltower
Our Lady of Guadalupe bell tower
The Historic 2008 Journey

The 2008 journey up from Mexico City with the newly created statue was a historic event for a few reasons. The likeness of Our Lady of Guadalupe first came up the Rio Grande when Padre Juan Ramirez traveled from Juarez to Socorro in 1663 with her image in his saddlebag. The 2008 journey with the new statue followed essentially the same route that Padre Ramirez traveled centuries earlier.

The 2008 trip up from Mexico City was particularly special for New Mexico. Today, the images you view of Our Lady in New Mexico and in Santa Fe seem to be everywhere. They are seen on shirts and posters and everything in between. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most often image seen if you stroll around Santa Fe. By the creation of the statue, it's long historic journey up from Mexico and it's home today in front of the oldest church in the United States dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Fe residents and visitors, Catholic and non-Catholic, can enjoy this excellent and sacred piece of religious artistic work.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine is located at 417 Agua Fria St Santa Fe, NM.

Good books to research the historic churches of New Mexico include Historic New Mexico Churches by Annie Lux and Lamy of Santa Fe by author Paul Horgan.

(Photos from author's private collection)

View Larger Map

1 comment:

  1. I attended the Guadalupe chapel today and was minded that I forged the wrought iron hardware for the front doors: strap hinges, bolts, drop handles, and locking crossbar. Query. I don't remember the year of installation, nor do I remember who fabricated the two heavy wooden doors and the smaller wicket. Any help in dating this would be appreciated.
    Seems like it was around 1975. A large architectural firm from Chicago oversaw the work.


Please share your comments...