Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - San Miguel Chapel

The Chapel of San Miguel
Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico

While there may be some debate among scholars as to the precise date when the Chapel of San Miguel was built, it is certainly among the oldest existing churches still in use in the New World. Known locally as a mission, it was built to serve the poor, mostly Mexican, Indians in the Santa Fe congregation.

In the early 1850s, at the same time the Sisters of Loretto were invited to build a school for girls, the Christian Brothers were brought over the Santa Fe Trail by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy to start a school for boys and manage the Chapel of San Miguel.

During the mid-1800s, the Chapel served as a school chapel for Mass for St. Michael's High School and College when they were located next door.


September 13, 1999


September 13, 1999

San Miguel Chapel
Santa Fe, New Mexico

"Oldest church structure in the U.S. The original adobe walls and altar were built by Tlaxcala Indians from Mexico under the direction of Franciscan Padres, circa 1610"


The Altar of the
Chapel of San Miguel

Remodeled during the 19th century, those changes have been removed and a full and faithful restoration has been completed.


September 13, 1999


September 13, 1999


The Altar Screen
of the Chapel of San Miguel

According to authorities, the altar screen is among the most splendid in the Southwest. It was painted by an anonymous Santero known as the Laguna Santero to accommodate both Mexican paintings on canvas and local bultos*.

Among the paintings are Saint Terisa of Avila (top left), Saint Michael (top center), and Saint Gertrude the Great (top right).

In the middle tier are images of Jesus Nazareno (center), Saint Francis (left) and Saint Louis IX, King of France (right)

*Bulto (Traditional) -- A statue of Christ, a saint or the Virgin carved from cottonwood root, covered with gesso and painted. Sometimes the statue is clothed. Contemporary bultos can be found in bronze and other media.


The Restored Chapel

The Chapel of San Miguel in Santa Fe, located in the Barrio de Analco Historic District, was partially destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The thick adobe walls remained unharmed. In 1710 it was rebuilt. Stone buttresses later were added to strengthen the walls. The tower was remodeled and a modern facade was added.

The Chapel of San Miguel in Santa Fe is an outstanding example of Spanish style churches built after the Pueblo Revolt, using high windows and thick walls for protection.

Beautiful and some say priceless ornaments and paintings adorn the interior of the mission. A bell cast in Spain in 1356 is displayed in an anteroom. It was used in churches in Spain and Mexico before being brought to Santa Fe by oxcart in the early 19th century.


September 13, 1999


For additional information about The Chapel of San Miguel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, you may contact 

Brother Lester Lewis, fsc  
Mission Director   


Email: Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten