The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi has had a storied past that has helped to solidify the history of Santa Fe. During the 21st century aughts two significant additions to the church have continued to enhance the narrative of this nation’s oldest capitol city. In 2003 the sculpture of St. Kateri welcomed parishioners at the entrance of the church. Two years later in 2005 the cathedral became a basilica.
A Special Chapel
The elevation of the cathedral’s status to a basilica had to do with the history of the church and its contributions to the community. Inside the cathedral, in her own private chapel, you will find La Conquistadora the oldest Madonna in the United States, who arrived in 1625. A reliquary containing historical remnants of some of the most revered saints in history is located in the private chapel.
St. Kateri is the first Native American saint in Catholicism. Her feast day is held on July 14th. Known as the Lily of the Mohawks, St. Kateri came from the Indian village of Ossernenon in upstate New York. The artist Stella Loretto of Jemez Pueblo created the sculpture of St. Kateri. Loretto took artist license by adding turquoise to the statue to highlight her presence in New Mexico.
A Franciscan Foundation
The 1540 expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado into New Mexico included several Franciscan friars. Fifty-eight years later ten Franciscans arrived with Juan de Oñate in 1598 to establish missions and build churches in the Indian Pueblos. By 1609 the missions had become the primary reason for the Spanish to remain in New Mexico. After four hundred years the archdiocese made a significant change. In the early part of the millennium the provincial council of the Franciscan province of Our Lady of Guadalupe returned the administration of the Cathedral parish to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. On January 1, 2000, a secular priest began to oversee the management of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.