When Connie Hernandez died in 2015 a part of Santa Fe history came to an end. Her family had been caretakers of La Conquistadora for more than 250 years. The upkeep of this country’s oldest Madonna began with Connie’s ancestor Amodo Sena who was the mayordomo, or caretaker, in the mid 1700s. Taking care La Conquistadora became a tradition for the Hernández family. Her mother became the Sacristana and dressmaker to the revered religious icon in the early part of the 20th century.
Processions: A Walk of Faith
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. Connie Hernandez began walking in processions with her older sisters when she was five years old. She would throw rose petals in front of La Conquistadora as she proceeded down the street.