San Agustín de la Isleta Mission

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San Agustín de la Isleta Mission
San Agustín de la Isleta Mission, 1925
San Agustín de la Isleta Mission is located in New Mexico
San Agustín de la Isleta Mission
San Agustín de la Isleta Mission
34°54′32.4″N 106°41′36.0″W / 34.909000°N 106.693333°W / 34.909000; -106.693333Coordinates: 34°54′32.4″N 106°41′36.0″W / 34.909000°N 106.693333°W / 34.909000; -106.693333
Location Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico
Country United States
Denomination Franciscan
Founded 1622
Architect(s) Juan de Salas
Completed 1629/1630

San Agustín de la Isleta Mission, founded in 1622, was a Spanish Mission in what is now Bernalillo County, New Mexico, United States. It was a religious outpost established by Spanish Catholic Franciscans, to spread Christianity among the local Native Americans.


Isleta Pueblo is the name of two pueblos of the ancient Tiwa (Spanish: Tigua) tribe, of remote Shoshoncan stock. The San Agustin de la Isleta Mission was founded on the older pueblo, on the west bank of the Rio Grande about 13 miles (21 km) south of Albuquerque. The original Isleta (i.e. islet) was so named by the Spaniards from its position on a tongue of land projecting into the stream; the native name, Shiewhibak, seems to refer to a knife used in connection with a certain ceremonial foot race. It was first entered by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1540, and again in 1582-3 by Espejo (q.v.) while trying to ascertain the fate of Father Rodriguez and two other Franciscan missionaries who had been murdered by native people in the vicinity a year earlier.

The Franciscan friar Juan de Salas came to New Mexico with Alonso de Benavides in 1622.[1] Salas probably built the San Antonio "convent" at Isleta around 1629 or 1630.[2][3] At a later period, the mission received many refugees from outlying pueblos abandoned in consequence of Apache raids, until at the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 it may have numbered 2000 people. Due to the large number of Spaniards at the time, most were not hurt. The pueblo was burned and the remaining pueblo people went south to El Paso, Texas to the Ysleta Mission.

In 1692-3, Vargas reconquered the Pueblo country and mission work was soon after resumed. In approximately 1710, the original pueblo was reoccupied by the Isleta people, and a new mission established there under the name of San Agustin.

With the growth of the Spanish population, the importance of the Native American missions correspondingly decreased. In 1780-1, one-third of the Pueblo population was swept away by smallpox, in consequence of which most of the missions were abandoned, but that at Isleta continued to exist under Spanish and Mexican rule for fifty years longer, when it became virtually a secular church.

In 1923, Father Anton Docher undertook a major remodeling of the Isleta mission, constructing prominent spires on the adobe walls.[4] At this time, the sloping roof was constructed to avoid the water leaks which destroyed the altar constantly.[5] The mission has now been restored to the initial frame. "The Padre of Isleta" spent 34 years (1891–1925) in Isleta where he is now buried near the church altar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blake, Robert Bruce (2012). "SALAS, JUAN DE". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ Montaño, Mary Caroline (2001). Tradiciones Nuevomexicanas: Hispano Arts and Culture of New Mexico. UNM Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-8263-2137-4. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  3. ^ Bandelier, Adolph Francis Alphonse (1890). Final report of investigations among the Indians of the southwestern United States: carried on mainly in the years from 1880 to 1885 ... Printed by J. Wilson and son. p. 233. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  4. ^ Chritopher Vecsey.On the Padres' trail.University of Notre Dame Press, 1996 , p.182.
  5. ^ Guggino, Patty. "Los Lentes". New Mexico State Record Center and Archives.


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.