Santa Fe’s Rosario Chapel History

Rosario Chapel at the turn of the 20th century.

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. The novena to La Conquistadora is celebrated in Santa Fe in the early part of summer. The annual novena consists of nine days of prayer. Novena means nine in Latin.

The Chapel Bell

A single bell atop the chapel rings at the start of church services. During the novena to La Conquistadora the bell rings at 6 a.m. and then again at 5:15 p.m. for the hour of prayer. During the Fiesta de Santa Fe the Misa de Pregon kicks off the beginning of the festivities. Rosario chapel began after the death of Diego de Vargas. One hundred years later the original chapel fell into disrepair creating unsafe conditions for the church services.

Location, Location, Location

In 1807 a new chapel began with a formal blessing the following year. Rosario began as the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. The church encampment site began in 1692 with the arrival of Diego de Vargas and later the shrine to La Conquistadora. The chapel stands in the northwest corner of Santa Fe, east of the National Cemetery and north of De Vargas Center. Rosario cemetery surrounds the T-shaped chapel.

Main Chapel for La Conquistadora

La Conquistadora’s main chapel is located in the oldest part of Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. That part of the church was part of the original parroquia (parish church) at the north transept. Construction for St. Francis began in 1869 under the guidance of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. In 1888 the bishop died, so the cathedral never received the two spires for each side of the bell towers. For Santa Fe’s Catholic community La Conquistadora, this nation’s oldest Madonna, Rosario Chapel and the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral are forever linked in tradition and devotion.

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