For almost a century and a half, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Santa Fe is not only known as the mother church for Catholics in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, but an icon of the city itself.
From it’s Romanesque inspired architechture, to it’s ties with the establishment of the state, the cathedral draws in visitors year round. However, at Christmas time the church takes on a whole different feeling to it.
“People from all over come here and you can’t help but at Christmas time to feel spiritual and connected to what the season is about,” said Fr. Adam Lee Ortega Y Ortiz, Rector & Pastor of St. Francis. “Even though stores and other places tend to drift off into the merchandising of it, people are called spiritually back to it’s roots.”
Those roots go back into the late 1800’s when the church was initially completed by then Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. Both the interior and exterior of St. Francis was inspired by churches from Lamy’s native land of France. It wasn’t until renovations in the 1980’s that a Spanish altar screen was installed in the church which tied the church’s French roots in with those of New Mexico. Another strong tie is the virtually untouched part of the original adobe cathedral, known as La Conquistadora Chapel.
“This cathedral is certainly a combination of so many traditions and peoples and cultures which is the church,” said Ortega Y Ortiz. “It is not just one people, it is not one way of seeing things, but multi faceted as God is and this cathedral is a testament to that.”
The church is currently being decorated for the Christmas season, physically and with a change in the liturgy.
“It draws everyone back to a center, to a place of groundedness,” adds Ortega Y Ortiz. “This holy place has stood here for centuries and not only in these walls, but certainly the remains of our ancestors buried under the cathedral, grounds people in something.”