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Fray Angelico Chavez

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Fray Angelico Chavez.

Fray Angélico Chávez of Santa Fe was a priest, genealogist and a historian. He was also the author of 22 books, including nine historical books. Chavez was born to Don Fabian Chavez and Nicolasa Roybal de Chavez on April 10, 1910, in Wagon Mound, N.M. He was the first of ten children, who would excel in spiritual leadership, historical research, politics, the arts, church service, military and writing. When Angelico was 14 he chose to follow his spiritual quest of special service to the Franciscan Order. Thirteen years later, in 1937, Chavez became a Franciscan priest.

The ordination of Fray Angelico Chavez in 1937.

Early in his career, Fray Angelico discovered that his talents were also of great service in the military as Chaplain. Prior to World War 11, he was chaplain in Fort Bliss, Texas. He served with the Fighting 200th Division in the Philippines and was fluent in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. Chavez became an an Army Chaplin in the Pacific in World War II, and again during the Korean Conflict. He left the Army with the rank of major.

A Prolific Writer

During Angelico’s seventy years as a priest he also wrote 22 books, including five books of poetry, five Belles Lettres, a novel titled, Our Lady of Toledo, nine historical books and two biographies. Chavez is considered the preeminent Hispanic historian of New Mexico. The Catholic priest was also an artist. His book, Origins of New Mexico Families, is New Mexico’s bible for genealogists researching their Spanish roots. The Fray Angelico Chavez Library at the Palace of the Governors is named in his honor.