Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Bit About Religion in New Mexico

Santa Fe's Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis is getting a spring cleaning. Well, more like a 40oth Anniversary cleaning. The church is not that old, but the little chapel which houses the City's Beloved La Conquistadora is pretty old. The Journal North ran an article about how does an old Cathedral get cleaned. I think it's fascinating that for the city's 400th anniversary, the mother church of the Catholic presence in New Mexico is getting spruced up.

New Mexico has a very long history of Catholicism. I believe that Baltimore might have been this nation's first Archdiocese, but Catholicism has been in the "new world" for 400 years, all of that time in New Mexico. It wasn't always a serene and happy time historically, but sometimes I think it's often overlooked that there is a long history of Catholicism in this part of the country. New Mexico of course, was a late comer to the US and with so much anti-Catholic sentiment in the nation historically, it wasn't something much to be bragged about I suppose.

I found a great web site that has the history of many of the churches, chapels and sanctuaries in New Mexico. There are renderings of how the Cathedral Basilica would look if the spires had been built. I wish I had time to see all that Churches and Sancutaries of New Mexico has to offer.

I also learned that the first Spanish Catholics were not followers of the Roman/Latin Rite but the Mozarbic Rite which is a Catholic Rite that emerged in Muslim Spain and was quite strong. Apparently, there is a church in Spain where it is still observed and it is under the authority of Rome. I must study more about this.

Also, probably the first Jews in the new world came to New Mexico as well. Crypto-Jews (Sephardic Jews) exiled from Spain helped settle New Mexico too. Though, through the years, their traditions and histories were almost lost and many of the old families are discovering their Sephardic hertiage.

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