Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assissi!

One of the landmarks I was able to visit in Santa Fe, New Mexico was the Cathedral of St Francis!

You can’t hardly miss it, it’s there….larger than life…at the end of the street---and it’s a busy place, bustling with tourists! With good reason!

My fascination with historic buildings holds no bounds, and I was eager to walk the grounds and find my way inside.

I always feel a reverence when entering any place of worship, I don’t want to intrude on those who might be there for “real” reasons, not just sight-seeing as myself, but we were welcomed in by a docent who handed us some pamphlets on the history of the Cathedral, and we were encouraged to take ourselves on a little walking tour.

I could have spent MUCH more time in here than I did. There was so much to see and appreciate --- from the way the light came through the stained glass windows to filter down onto the pews and the floor, from the altar piece behind the pulpit, to the rose window at the back of the chapel! Where to start?

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This was my first glimpse – the time was early afternoon, about 1pm or so. I would swear I was in Europe! We were encouraged to follow the aisle to the left of the center row of pews, the “oldest” chapel portion was there toward the front on the left ---

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Do you see those numbers?! This statue around the corner was brought to Santa Fe in 1625. 1625!! The statue is the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States. Historically--- That’s pretty danged significant in my book!

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The chapel itself was rebuilt in 1714, and there were elements in the chapel taking us right back to that time….it’s about to have its 300 year anniversary! ((Those of you who thought all the “good old stuff” was only on the East Coast with the pilgrims, think again!))

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I know the pictures are not great. The one thing they asked of us was “NO FLASH” And I stuck to that—Think of the artisans who made this beautiful altar piece in 1625 – HOW did they do it? What tools did they use? What components made up their paint, their plaster, the gold leaf---simple tools, lots of hard work, NO OTT LIGHTS!

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This, my friends, is the CEILING --- circa 1714. Of course, lights have been added…but it is as rough-hewn as the day it was built.

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As we left the chapel of La Conquistadora, I snapped this view of the Rose Window above the entrance doors –Too bad there is so much light from the glorious sunny October day outside that you can’t see the beautiful colors of the stained glass.

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Close up detail ((As close as I could get with a phone camera with no flash allowed)) of the beautiful artwork above the columns.

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On my Tuesday Evening walkabout after my workshop was over with the Santa Fe guild – this was my view of the Cathedral --- It takes on a whole different quality of peace in the evening when the grounds are deserted. I walked around again, taking my time – since the hustle and bustle of sight-seers had abated, and I wasn’t likely to find myself standing in the way of someone’s photo-opportunity. The evening light in Santa Fe is just magnificent!

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In the front courtyard is a statue honoring the first woman of Native American heritage to be named a Saint. This artist’s work is SO wonderful, the attention to detail makes you think you could reach out and touch the hem of her skirt or her robe, and feel it as fabric in your hands, not bronze.

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I love the last line --- “Embracing Kindness, Forgiveness, Love, Compassion & Joyful Peace.” Don’t we all aspire to that in our lives?

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You can find out more about Kateri Tekakwitha HERE!

I love it when life forces me to slow down and take another look. My Tuesday evening stroll through the empty streets of Santa Fe was that and more to me! How often does life tell you to LOOK UP! What a life lesson! LOOK UP!

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Some moments are just best experienced in solitude ---How else can you hear the quiet whisperings of your heart?


  1. I hope to get out West some day.... most likely after I retire... thanks for sharing your photos... almost like being there...

  2. I am a recent transplant to Northern New Mexico and am reminded every day of the peace to be found here. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit, Bonnie.

  3. One time when we visited Santa Fe in the Fall/Winter
    there were luminaria [brown paper bags with candles]
    set all along that fence that encloses the yard of the Cathedral.
    Made a huge impression that I'll not soon forget.
    Thanks for posting.

  4. I think more people need to hear that quiet whisper of their hearts......
    That was the perfect ending to this post. Beautiful church. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sante Fe is such a great place for so many reasons.

  6. Oh I have chills. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

  7. My husband and I went to Santa Fe a few years ago on vacation and loved every minute of it. I especially enjoyed the art galleries and the vendors on the old square. Bought some lovely earrings there. The cathedral was awesome. I'd love to go back again some day. Thanks for the pics.

  8. Your phone camera takes great photos. The church does remind me of Europe! So beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Anonymous4:17 PM EDT

    Lately, especially with the beautiful fall colors surrounding me, I've stopped to listen to the "silence" and hear nature. What a soul/spirit refreshing exercise that I need to practice more frequently. Thanks for this post ... it was great! Flatlander

  10. Anonymous4:41 PM EDT

    Thanks Bonnie for taking me on yet another trip with you. You are wonderful with words and your expressions are clear to me.
    Maryella in Maine

  11. Old churches are so artfully and architecturally wonderful, not to mention the spiritual. I've tried to take pictures of rose windows in cathedrals I've visited their true beauty is hard to capture.

  12. I always try to include visits to different churches whenever I travel. It's such a nice place to relax and recharge, especially on a long trip. This one is truly beautiful.

  13. There are so many charming historical buildings in Santa Fe it takes your breath away. I know what you mean about the light in northern New Mexico. It's so clear and seems brighter than anywhere else.

  14. Beautiful - thanks for sharing with us!

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post! I belong to a St. Francis parish, so I enjoy seeing other churches named for him. It is fitting that you felt such a sense of peace there! I grew up near the shrine of Blessed Kateri, so I was thrilled to see her statue as well.


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