Today, October 4th, is the Catholic feast day for St. Francis of Assisi. New Mexico’s capital city became La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis in 1610. Which translates to, “The Royal City of Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi.” In 1717, San Francisco de Asís became named the patron saint of Santa Fe and the archdiocese. The First Order of St. Francis, the Franciscan missionaries, played an integral role in the history of Santa Fe and the surrounding region from the early 1600s through 2000.
St. Francis Cathedral
In 1850 New Mexico became a U.S. territory. The following year the Vatican appointed Jean-Baptiste Lamy as bishop to Santa Fe. Lamy quickly went to work to establish the first archdiocese in the area and oversaw the building of the Romanesque St. Francis Cathedral, now known as the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Today, the cathedral continues to be the defining landmark in downtown Santa Fe.
Influence of St. Francis of Assisi
The Franciscan order traveled on expeditions with Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca, Cortés, and Narváez. They were instrumental in establishing Catholic missions throughout South America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. Many of the names of our most popular cities are a testament to the strong influence of the Catholic Church and the Franciscan missionaries that settled in western United States. In California the Spanish missions established during the 17th century have turned into large cities. San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles and Sacramento were all missions.