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History of La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada

1600-1680:  Families who arrived at the present San Juan de los Caballeros pueblo with Don Juan de Onate in 1598 moved to the present Santa Cruz area by 1600.  Farms were established on fertile soils along the Rio de Santa Cruz and a small chapel was constructed near the Sombrillo area.  Families resided in the Santa Cruz area until the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when all Spanish settlers were exiled from New Mexico by the Pueblo Indians.

1692-1695: Governor Diego DeVargas re-established the Spanish settlement of New Mexico by establishing the first Villa of New Mexico in Santa Fe in 1692. The second villa of New Mexico was established at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz de la Canada de los mexicanos Espanoles del Rey Nuestro Senor Carlos Segundo) in 1695 by Governor Diego DeVargas. The settlers worshiped at the pre-Pueblo Revolt chapel located at Sombrillo near the river.

Founding families: Angel, Aragon, Cordova, Esquibel, Flores, Hernandez, Mascarenas, Martinez, Medina, Mirabal, Miranda, Montes, Moya, Quintana, Sanchez, Sandoval, Snatistevan, Sena, Silva, Tafoya, and Ulibarri.  2nd Group: Armijo, Atencio, Crespin, Lovato, MartinezMuniz, Olivas, Ortiz, Pena, Ramirez, Tenorio, Valenzuela, Vigil, Archibeque, and Gurule.

1732-1733: The small chapel near Sombrillo was damaged beyond repair by the flooding river.  In 1732 the Governor petitioned the Viceroy for permission to construct this Church. Permission was granted in June, 1733.  Construction on the main body of this adobe Church started the same year and lasted until 1748. The North Chapel was constructed beore the 1800's and was dedicated to San Francisco de Assisi, patron Saint of the Archdiocese. This Chapel was also know as the Penitente Chapel.  It was here that the Penitentes worshiped before building their own Morada.

Until the Archdiocese was established in 1850, it was the custom the Bishop of Durango, Mexico sent priests north to visit and inspect the churches/mission under his jurisdiction. These inspections and inventories have provided a unique record of the contents and the developing architecture of this Church.  Resident pastors also left very complete records.

There is such a wealth of information available about the great history of Santa Cruz de la Canada, and while the book published in 1983 is currently out of print, efforts are being made to compile a new publication. Please refer back to this page for future updates. 

The historic Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada - Mother Church of Northern New Mexico- built in 1733, has been designated a State and National Historic Site. 

Fray Andres Garcia painted the altar screen bewteen 1765 and 1768. The Santa Cruz de la Canada Paris, under the guidance of the Sons of the Holy Family Priests restored the altar and the Church in 1979. 



Photo Credit: Parishoner Tom Velarde, Santa Cruz

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