Benigno Muñiz : From Altar Boy to Editor

Benigno Muñiz in the 1930s in Santa Fe.

Benigno Muñiz was born in 1870 and became an altar boy for Archbishop Jean-Baptist Lamy when he was 11. By 1899 he became the editor of the Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Mexicano. He also performed with Los Villeros Alegres, a leading musical ensemble. In 1931 he was also in charge of the weekly band concerts on the Plaza. Muñiz owned several houses that he rented to many of the early artists who came to Santa Fe, like Paul Burlin and Arthur Musgrave. Eventually he sold one of the houses at the corner of College Street to writer and poet Witter Bynner.

A Musician at Heart

Benigno Muñiz leads musicians in the Fiesta de Santa Fe parade in the 1940s.

Benigno Muñiz became an altar boy during the early days of the archdiocese of Santa Fe. Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy became the first bishop and archbishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe. When Lamy arrived in Santa Fe he encountered resistance from the local clergy but quickly took charge and began to transform Santa Fe. He ordered the construction of new churches and created new parishes and schools. By 1869 he started work on the Cathedral of St. Francis, now a Basilica, which was completed in 1888. Lamy had the Romanesque style church built similar to those of his native France, which was in complete contrast to the surrounding adobe structures. Throughout his time in Santa Fe, Archbishop Lamy ruled with a strong hand amid controversy. Today, a statue of Lamy graces the front entrance to the Basilica and his body is interned below the church floor.

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