Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe

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This article is about the archdiocese in New Mexico, USA. For other archdioceses named Santa Fe, see Archdiocese of Santa Fe (disambiguation).
Archdiocese of Santa Fe
Archidioecesis Sanctae Fidei in America Septentrionali
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe.svg
Country United States
Territory 19 counties in Northeastern New Mexico
Ecclesiastical province Santa Fe
Area 61,142 sq mi (158,360 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
314,183 (22%)
Parishes 92
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established July 23, 1850 (165 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Patron saint St. Francis of Assisi
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop John Charles Wester
Emeritus Bishops Michael Jarboe Sheehan
Archdiocese of Santa Fe.jpg
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe (Latin: Archidioecesis Sanctae Fidei in America Septentrionali) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the southwestern region of the United States in the state of New Mexico. While the motherchurch, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, is in the City of Santa Fe, its administrative center is in the City of Albuquerque. The Diocese comprises the counties of Rio Arriba, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Quay, Bernalillo, Valencia, Socorro, Torrance, Guadalupe, De Baca, Roosevelt, and Curry. The current archbishop is John Charles Wester, who was installed on June 4, 2015.


Pope Pius IX created the Apostolic Vicariate of New Mexico on July 19, 1850, and installed its first bishop. Three years later, it became a full diocese, taking the name of its principal city home. In response to the growth of Catholicism in the area, the diocese was elevated to an archdiocese on February 12, 1875. The seeds of Catholicism were planted in the current archdiocese in 1598, when Don Juan de Oñate, leader of an expedition of Spanish colonists, including eight Franciscan friars, reached the east bank of the Rio Grande near its confluence with the Chama River, close to Española, and established its capital.[1] The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is the home of San Miguel Mission, the oldest church structure originally built in the continental United States. The original adobe walls and altar were built by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico in 1610, but much of the structure was rebuilt in 1710. See List of the oldest churches in the United States. The church building has been within the U.S. since 1848, when the New Mexico territory was annexed.


The list of ordinaries of the archdiocese and their years of service:

  1. Jean Baptiste Lamy (1853–1885)
  2. Jean Baptiste Salpointe (1885–1894)
  3. Placide Louis Chapelle (1894–1897)
  4. Peter Bourgade (1899–1908)
  5. John Baptist Pitaval (1909–1918)
  6. Albert Daeger (1919–1932)
  7. Rudolph Gerken (1933–1943)
  8. Edwin Byrne (1943–1963)
  9. James Peter Davis (1964–1974)
  10. Robert Fortune Sanchez (1974–1993)
  11. Michael Jarboe Sheehan (1993–2015)
  12. John Charles Wester (2015–present)

Mother church[edit]

Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy started construction on the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (commonly known as the St. Francis Cathedral) in 1869. It would be the third church to occupy the portion of land. The first was a Chapel constructed by Franciscan Friars in 1610 which was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680; the second was an adobe parish church built in 1717 which St. Francis Cathedral replaced. Construction was not finished until 1884, by which time, the Diocese had become the Archdiocese, and the Cathedral - dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi - became its motherchurch. Archbishop Lamy is entombed in the sanctuary floor of the Cathedral, and a bronze statue, dedicated in 1925, stands in his memory outside the front entrance of the Cathedral.

It was built in a Romanesque style found in Bishop Lamy's native France. The interior reflects the pastel colors of New Mexico; The pews are made of blonde wood, and the walls and columns are painted a dusky pink with pale green trimmings. Stone for the building was mined from what is now Lamy, New Mexico - named in the Archbishop's honor - and the stained glass was imported from France. The Cathedral was originally intended to have two spires rising up from its landmark bell towers, but due to costs, this was delayed, and finally canceled, giving the bell towers a very distinctive look.

Conquistadora Chapel[edit]

The adjoining Conquistadora Chapel is all that remains of the second Church. Built in 1714, this tiny Chapel houses La Conquistadora, the oldest Madonna in the United States, brought by Franciscan Friars in 1625.

Elevation to a Basilica[edit]

On June 15, 2005, Archbishop Sheehan announced that Pope Benedict XVI had designated the Cathedral a Basilica. The Cathedral was officially elevated on October 4, 2005. Its full name, the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, was consequently changed to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. [2]

Loretto Chapel[edit]

The Archdiocese is also the home of the Loretto Chapel, which contains an ascending spiral staircase—the building of which the Sisters of Loretto consider to be a miracle due to the unusual construction of the staircase (see Loretto Chapel for a more detailed discussion).

High schools[edit]

Suffragan sees[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Seeds of Struggle, Harvest of Faith: Four Hundred Years of Catholicism in New Mexico, January 1, 1998 [1].

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°07′42″N 106°41′49″W / 35.12833°N 106.69694°W / 35.12833; -106.69694