The Franciscan Legacy in New Mexico & the Southwest

A Procession in the mid-twentieth century in Santa Fe.

Every major city in California was once a Spanish mission. The history behind these missions was due to the diligence of the Franciscan priests, who established a foothold in the west. Their legacy began in New Mexico. The Franciscans had a continuous presence in the state for more than four hundred years. For almost three of those four centuries the Franciscans served the needs of parishioners at St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe and nearby Pueblos and towns. Since 1539, there has been an almost continuous presence of Franciscan friars in New Mexico.

Change for the Millennium

At the dawn of a new century the legacy of the Franciscans in New Mexico came to an end. On January 1, 2000 Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan accepted the decision to place a secular priest in charge of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Throughout the almost 300 years the Franciscans have served in Santa Fe, the church has been rebuilt six times. Construction on the present cathedral was completed in 1888.

Contemporary Franciscans

Angelico Chavez and Crispin Butz were Franciscan priests.

The Franciscans were witness to many of the events in Santa Fe’s long history, including the beginning and end of their time in the City of Holy Faith.

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