Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - St Francis Cathedral


The image of the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe has come to symbolize of the city perhaps more than any other picture. The Cathedral's Romanesque style is a rare departure from the Pueblo architecture that dominates Santa Fe and mission churches of the Southwest. It's construction was the crowning achievement of the remarkable church building career of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.


St. Francis Cathedral
Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Cathedral, completed in 1884, was the 45th church built by New Mexico's most famous Catholic prelate, Father Jean Baptiste Lamy (L'Amy), who was immortalized by Willa Cather in her Pulitzer Prize winning Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927).


September 14, 1999


The Cathedral

On the site where St. Frances Cathedral stands today there was originally a small mission church. That mission was burned down in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

After the Spanish regained control in 1692, a more substantial adobe church, La Parroquia, was built on this site. That church served for almost 200 years.

Finally, in 1884, La Parroquia was replaced by St. Frances Cathedral. The new Cathedral, intended for the ages, was constructed of stone from local quarries and from the La Bajada Mesa, west of town.


Altar Screen above the main altar in St. Frances Cathedral


September 14, 1999


September 14, 1999


St. Frances

This is one of the magnificent stained glass windows.


The Chapel of Our lady of the Rosary at St. Frances Cathedral

Portions of the earlier adobe church, La Parroquia, still remain in the form of the Chapel of Our lady of the Rosary.

"Love One Another Constantly"

In 1626, Fray Alonso de Benavides arrived in Santa Fe from Spain with a wooden statue of Our Lady of the Assumption. This image became known as La Conquistadora. During the Great Pueblo Revolt in 1680, the image was removed. It was later returned to the city by the armies of Don Diego de Vargas during the re-conquest of 1692.

Today she is known as Our Lady of Peace, and may be seen at the center of the Chapel's altar screen.


September 14, 1999


September 14, 1999


The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary



Bishop Lamy and St. Frances Cathedral

of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico

"On July 19, 1850, Pope Pius IX created the Vicariate Apostolic of New Mexico and appointed Father Jean Baptiste Lamy as its first Bishop. Bishop Lamy arrived in New Mexico in the summer of 1851. His early efforts were directed to the building of more churches, the creation of new parishes and the establishment of educational and medical facilities.

"By 1853, the Vicariate Apostolic had become a See in its own right, the Diocese of Santa Fe, and on February 12, 1875, the Diocese of Santa Fe was elevated to an Archdiocese with Bishop Lamy as its first Archbishop.

"In 1869 Bishop Lamy began building a stone cathedral, to replace the old adobe church, parts of which had served the parishioners of Santa Fe since 1717 (the Conquistadora Chapel is all that remains). The new stone Cathedral was built around and over the old church, in the style of the Romanesque churches of France familiar to Bishop Lamy. By 1884 the main part of the Cathedral was finished and the old church was torn down from under it. Archbishop Lamy died on February 14, 1888 and is buried under the sanctuary floor of his beloved St. Francis Cathedral. He was succeeded as Archbishop of Santa Fe by John Baptist Salpointe. Archbishop John Baptist Pitaval, fifth Archbishop of Santa Fe, dedicated the bronze statue of Archbishop Lamy which stands in front of the Cathedral on May 23, 1915."


For additional information about the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico, you may contact 
Brother Lester Lewis, fsc   
Mission Director

Email: Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten