New Mexico December 09, 2019
The Oldest Church In New Mexico Dates Back To The 1600s And You Need To See It
Whether you’re new to Santa Fe or a long-time resident, you know there’s plenty of history lingering in the streets here. It is home to some of the oldest places in the country, including the oldest church.
Historical accounts date San Miguel Chapel (also referred to as San Miguel Mission) to 1610, making it the oldest known church in the continental United States.
According to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, the earliest documentation of the chapel dates to July 1628 as an existing military chapel. The church has gone through several rebuilds over the centuries due to conflict and weather damage but a good amount of the chapel is still original.
The chapel was likely built by a group of Tlaxacans, a group of indigenous Mexicans brought to Santa Fe by Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries.
Over the years, the chapel has seen varying amounts of damage and rebuilds, the first in 1640 following a feud between a governor and church authorities. The church was rebuilt shortly afterward.
In 1680, it was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt, when the indigenous Pueblo people rose up against the violence of Spanish colonizers. This resulted in the roof burning and the building experiencing significant damage, as well as driving out the Spaniards and other settlers for over a decade.
After the Spanish returned with a vengeance in 1693, the chapel was rebuilt by 1710 into what you'll see today.
The chapel is renowned for its rustic beauty; a combination of adobe construction, wooden elements, and intricate reredos, as well as its intimate lighting.
Among the details you'll see here are precise carvings in wooden beams...
...an intricate altar coated in slowly fading paint...
...and the 780-pound bell that was installed in the bell tower in 1856.
An interesting note about the bell: the inscription reads “Saint Joseph pray for us August 9 1356.” However, it is thought the bell was actually cast many centuries later, in 1856. Some historians think the “8” was chipped away to read a “3” instead as a way to lure tourists to the chapel.
Have you had a chance to visit or attend Mass here? What was your experience like?
San Miguel Chapel is located in the historic Santa Fe, along Old Santa Fe Trail and De Vargas Street.
The mission is open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It holds Latin Mass on Sundays at 3 p.m. and English Mass on Sundays at 5 p.m. You can find details about visiting, the chapel’s history, and more by visiting its website.
Website: San Miguel Chapel
Address: 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 983-3974
Santa Fe is home to some undoubtedly beautiful and historic places. Another stunning place to see here is the St. Francis Cathedral. Read more in
St. Francis Cathedral In New Mexico Is A True Work Of Art.
Address: 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA