Across the Santa Fe River from the Plaza you’ll find the San Miguel Mission church. Built by the Franciscan missionaries the church dates back to around 1605. Located on the south side of the river the church became the primary place of worship for missionaries, their Indian converts, and the entire Hispanic population through the 17th century. The Tlaxcalan Indians, who were part of the Aztec empire, helped to build the church. They came from Mexico as servants of the Spanish conquistadors in 1598.
Destruction in 1680
Damage did occur during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt at San Miguel, fortunately, the thick adobe walls protected the structure from the fire. However, the wooden roof and framework did burn. After the return of the Spaniards in 1692, San Miguel once again became an active church. The church has served as a mission, a barrio church, a military chapel, and an oratory for the Christian Brothers. San Miguel used to be on College Street. The name of the street changed in the 1970s to the Old Santa Fe Trail. In 1884 the street was called Bridge Street for the overpass on the Santa Fe river.
Legacy of the Bell
The legend of the first church bell goes back to Spain and its eight-century-long battle with the Moors. The bell rang triumphantly every time the Christians gained victory. It’s believed that the bell traveled from Spain to Mexico with Nicolás Ortiz Niño Ladrón de Guevara, a wealthy Spanish hidalgo. He placed the bell in his capilla (small chapel) in Santa Fe. Following the Pueblo Revolt the bell became a part of the San Miguel Chapel. Damaged by a storm in 1872, the bell had to be moved into the interior of the church in order to be reserved.