Nine Day Sojourn for Santa Fe’s Madonna

La Conquistadora at the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi on June 9, 2024 prior to her annual procession to Rosario Chapel.

La Conquistadora, this nation’s oldest Madonna, left the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi on Sunday. The revered icon was processed in solemn retinue to Rosario Chapel where she’ll stay for reside for the next nine days. The Catholic tradition of nine days of prayer, or novena, stems from the Latin word meaning nine. Each morning the faithful arrive at Rosario Chapel at 6:00 AM to partake in the annual novena to the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.

Rosario Chapel

The building of Rosario Chapel began in 1807 at the old 1692 encampment of Diego de Vargas and his army. The annual procession for La Conquistadora occurs on the Sunday after Corpus Cristi, which is a moveable Catholic feast day. The event begins at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and culminates at Rosario Chapel.

From Seville to Santa Fe

It is believed that La Conquistadora came to Santa Fe from Seville, Spain in 1625. The custom of processions began in the Southwest in 1598, when Juan de Oñate brought founding families from Spain with their European traditions. A procession is a religious retinue, solemnly moving from one location to another in spiritual contemplation.

Fiesta de Santa Fe

Diego de De Vargas and La Conquistadora are honored at the opening event called La Misa de Pregon. The religious ceremony takes place at six o’clock on the Friday morning of fiesta at Rosario Chapel. The Fiesta de Santa Fe continued as a religious festival through 1846. It honored La Conquistadora during the Spanish and Mexican rule in Santa Fe.

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