Novena to America’s Oldest Madonna

La Conquistadora outside of Rosario Chapel.

The novena to La Conquistadora ends today. Tomorrow she will be taken back to the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Every year on the Sunday after Corpus Christ the iconic image of American’s oldest Madonna is taken in procession to Rosario Chapel for nine days of prayer. The annual piligrmage did not take place in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year she traveled by car instead of the procession to the small chapel because Santa Fe continues to have pandemic safety measures in place. Approximately one and a half miles long, the procession occurs each year during June and early July depending on when the moveable feast of Corpus Christi occurs. It is believed that La Conquistadora was brought to Santa Fe from Seville, Spain in 1625 by Padre Fray Alonso Benavides.

Centuries of Devotion

Connie Hernandez, who died in 2015, had strong ties to the procession venerating La Conquistadora. Amado Sena, a family ancestor, served as the mayordomo (caretaker) for La Conquistaodra in 1750.

Connie Hernandez walks in front of the altar boy during the procession for La Conquistaodroa in 1950.

Connie Hernandez was the daughter of Miquelita Sena and Jose Hernández. She was born at the family home on August 26, 1925. For 35 years she operated the Old Santa Fe Trail Gift Shop in the family home. During that time she provided the community with religious articles, as well as items for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and First Holy Communion. During her lifetime Connie Hernandez walked in more than 350 processions. In addition to the procession for La Conquistadora, she also participated in the Corpus Christi and the Santa Fe Fiesta Candlelight processions. She began walking in processions with her older sisters when she five years old. It was her job to throw rose petals in front of La Conquistadora as she proceeded down the street.

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