Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Oldest Church and the Oldest House

Before Kate became seriously ill and was just "not feeling well," I drove to Santa Fe for the day. Now before you think I abandoned Kate, this was the day after she had been to the Urgent Care clinic and was given some medication for back pain. It was a week later, following a second visit to the clinic, that she was hospitalized.

As it turns out, that may have been the only opportunity to visit Santa Fe. The doctors have said that she should see a noticeable improvement when she returns to a location nearer sea level (from Albuquerque's 5000' altitude). A drive 60 miles north to Santa Fe at an altitude of 7000' does not seem wise.


So, my first stop was at the Visitors' Center. The staff persons presented me with a map to the locations I wanted to find and a suggestion to visit the oldest church still in use in the US and oldest home in the country. Both were a block away.

The adobe Chapel of San Miguel por Barrio de Analco was built by Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico in the early 1600s.

Pueblo Indians had been forced to pay tribute in corn and other products, labor in Spanish fields, and convert to Catholicism. Pueblo kivas (underground ceremonial chambers) were destroyed and other native spiritual practices quashed. These actions led to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which began with the destruction of the Chapel. It was completely rebuilt in 1710, following the Spanish reconquest of Santa Fe.

Even with a number of visitors exploring the interior, there was a serenity and beauty to the chapel which drew my attention past the distractions.

The reredos (or altar screen) in the Mission dates from 1798 and is the oldest wooden reredos in New Mexico.

San Miguel is a shrine to St. Michael and a chapel where Mass is celebrated weekly. The carved gilded and painted wood statue of St. Michael the Archangel celebrates his victory over Satan and dates from at least 1709 when it was brought from Mexico.

In the rear of the chapel is the San Jose Bell. There has been a great deal of discussion as to its age and history. Brother David has no doubt that it was cast in Spain in 1356, and brought to America by Nicolas Ortiz NiƱo Ladron de Guevara, who participated in the reconquest.

This bell is the oldest bell in the U.S. The silver objects in the frame are devotional tokens.

People are encouraged to ring the bell, and the tone still has a pure tone.

Near the chapel is an 800-year-old Adobe house, considered the oldest house in the United States. This house is the last remnant of the Pueblo of Analco, which at one time occupied much of the area on the south side of the Santa Fe River. Built of “puddled adobe,” this building is believed to be pre-Spanish.

While I was photographing the house, the parents of this little girl encouraged her to stand in the doorway so that they could take her picture there. I liked the scene.

Next to the house was this doorway leading to the patio of a cafe.

There were more photos in this area, but I had to move on to Loretto Chapel.

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