Today is the Catholic feast day for St. Jerome, known here in New Mexico as San Geronimo. In addition to being the patron saint for librarians and students, San Geronimo is the patron of Taos Pueblo. When the Spanish returned to New Mexico in 1692 all of the different pueblos agreed to become Catholics. With the caveat that they could continue with their own spiritual practices. Today, all 19 Indian Pueblos in the state has a Catholic church and a patron saint.
Northern Most Pueblo
Taos Pueblo is the furthest north of the pueblos along the Rio Grande. With only 70 Spaniards living in the immediate area from 1598 –1680, Taos did not receive the constant scrutiny of the colonists. However, the cruelty of the Spanish Crown did reach their pueblo. The Taos Indians played an active role in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt that successfully drove the Spanish colonists out of New Mexico for twelve years. The settlement of Taos Pueblo began around 1200-1250 A.D. During Francisco Vazquez de Coronado’s expedition in 1540, Spanish explorers first encountered the multi-story dwellings, synonymous with New Mexico’s northernmost Pueblo, at Taos Pueblo. The dwellings are now world-famous.
A Link to the Piro Indians
Taos and Picuris Pueblo speak Northern Tiwa, a language most closely related to an extinct language of the Piro Indians. When Diego de Vargas surveyed the aftermath of the Pueblo Revolt in 1696 he found that the shell of the burned out church at Taos Pueblo was being used as a corral. Under the guidance of Fray Juan Mirabal, the new Mission Church of San Geronimo was built in 1726. Later, the church was moved to the center of the pueblo where it’s located today.