La Conquistadora de Santa Fe
In a small Chapel within St. Francis’ Cathedral lies a remarkable figure. A unique piece of devotional art and an amazing witness to history, La Conquistadora, continues to be venerated today within the Catholic Church. Standing only 30 inches tall, she is the oldest recorded Madonna in the United States. She was built in Spain, travelled to the new world and witness to the bloody climax of the Pueblo Revolt. Then smuggled into exile, protected from harm, companion to De Vargas through his reconquest of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and worshipped today as a divine symbol of peace and avoidance of bloodshed. The history of this Icon is an apt representation of the rich and colorful past and present of New Mexico.
Carved in Spain during the early 17th century, the delicately featured Icon first entered recorded history in 1625. A Franciscan missionary by the name of Fray Alonso de Venavidez installed and dedicated a small shrine in Santa Fe at the Church of the Assumption. Changes in Catholic dogma had begun to emphasize Mary and the Immaculate Conception, and the church became the first shrine to Mary in what would become the United States.
Beyond the walls of the chapel, however, there was great unrest. These were the years of harsh conversion, dissolution of traditional social structures, forced labor, cruel punishments and devastating disease amongst the native Pueblo inhabitants. It was in this context that the Pueblo Revolt, as discussed elsewhere on the site, began.
Don Diego de Vargas
It is said that The Lady had warned the Spanish settlers of the coming revolt with dreams and visions and signs. Despite these premonitions, the settlers were unprepared for the violence of the Pueblo Revolt, when a coordinated rising amongst the pueblos exploded on August 12, 1680. Led by the charismatic holy man, Po’Pay, the Puebloans sought to eradicate all traces of the Catholic religion. Santa Fe burned, 21 friars were killed, and the colonists fled. Amidst the violence and chaos, The Lady was rescued from the burning church and accompanied the fleeing settlers.
Moving to what is today Juarez, Mexico, the settlers nursed hopes of returning to their former homes. The Lady was held by the exiled settlers for twelve years. It was in 1691 that Spain sent forth Don Diego De Vargas to reclaim the New Mexican territory. Setting out with the exiled colonists and his soldiers, De Vargas began the resettlement and reconquest of New Mexico.
Traveling with a large host under the banner of the Lady De Vargas presented an intimidating and imposing presence. Under his banner, many of the rebellious tribes surrendered peaceably and re-pledged their allegiance. It is this event, the largely peaceful reconquest of Santa Fe and New Mexico, that we still celebrate today with Fiesta. Under the banner of The Lady, now known as La Conquistadora, Santa Fe once again came under Spanish rule.
Though rebellion and harsh persecution would continue over the next few years, Santa Fe itself was not threatened again. Recognizing the improbability of the initial peaceful reconquest, the Settlers began an annual veneration in thanks for the icon’s aid.
La Conquistadora became an integral part of the native Catholic iconography. Volunteers pledged their time and money to the Icon’s celebration and exaltation. Today the Cofradia del Rosario [or Rosary Cofraternity] continues to be active in the New Mexican Catholic community.
Dressing La Conquistadora for her annual appearances soon led to her amassing a significant collection of jewels, dresses, and coverings. Her veneration is reflected in the beauty of her coverings and the elaboration of her worship. Her procession grew over time, and what was a simple shelter soon became a Chapel. Over time, a great Cathedral rose around the smaller Chapel and today the Basilica of St. Francis surrounds the Chapel.
La Conquistadora endures as a celebrated Icon to this day, remaining an essential part of Santa Fe’s temporal and spiritual history.
A favorite time of year is here! The clement autumn weather is perfect, and the local festivities remind us of how rich and grounded the City Different is in its fascinating history and culture.
One of the oldest capitals in the United States, this colonial city originated with a settlement at San Gabriel founded by Don Juan de Onate in 1598, then was moved to the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1610 and formally named La Villa Real de Santa Fe. In 1680, a Pueblo Indian revolt drove the Spanish colonists on a long march back to Guadalupe del Paso, now Juarez, Mexico. The Spanish survivors managed to rescue the wood carved statue of La Conquistadora, brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and still ensconced in our Cathedral.
La Conquistadora in her Cathedral Home
Twelve years later, the King of Spain appointed Don Diego De Vargas to lead the exiles in Guadalupe del Paso on a campaign up north to reclaim and resettle Santa Fe. The endeavor was managed without bloodshed on September 4, 1692, although the Indians again put up resistance when De Vargas returned from a re-provisioning trip down south. On his return, he camped outside the city near the present site of the Rosario Chapel. He prayed to La Conquistadora for her help to re-enter the town, triumphing before year’s end in December 1693. Don Diego pledged to restore her to her throne in the parish church , but he died in 1704 without achieving this goal.
In 1712, city officials drafted a proclamation for an annual celebration to commemorate the peaceful 1692 resettlement. Fiesta de Santa Fe then became a civic reality, with specifications for a mass, vespers, and a sermon. For the last 300 years, La Conquistadora and Don De Vargas, her new-world conquistador, have inspired a unique and enduring hometown celebration.
This week shows off a panoply of Fiesta events, although on the local level the celebration began months ago, when the Fiesta Queen, La Reina, and her court, the Quadrilla, were selected. Having visited schools, churches and senior centers over the course of the year, the court is ready to appear in full regalia.
The 2012 Fiesta Quadrilla
The Concierto de Mariachi takes place on Wednesday, September 5, with two performances, at 10am and 2pm at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. On Wednesday evening at 6pm, State Historian Rick Hendricks examines the complex political landscape of 17th Century New Mexico in a fascinating lecture at the New Mexico History Museum.
On Thursday, September 6, a dour phantasm comes to life for one brief evening, as we burn the 50-ft puppet, Zozobra, familiarly known as Old Man Gloom, repository of the year’s disappointments. Taking place at Fort Marcy Park, entertainment on the field begins at 3pm, but the conflagration does not occur until dark. NOT an event for agoraphobics, the faint of heart or young children.
Zozobra! Photo courtesy of Tobias Roybal, all rights reserved
The official opening of Fiesta takes place on Friday, September 7 at 6am, with the Pregón de la Fiesta. The faithful of Santa Fe gather at Rosario Chapel, where the presiding Mayor of Santa Fe issues the formal proclamation declaring the start of the annual festivity.
From Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9, there’ll be food, music and dance all day on the Santa Fe Plaza, with officials from the city, state and county co-celebrating the party commencing at 12noon. And on Friday the 7th, at 2pm on the Plaza, you can witness a re-enactment of the entry of General Don Diego de Vargas and his Cuadrilla in September 1692.
The Desfile de Los Ninos, the annual Pet Parade, takes place on Saturday, September 8 at 9am. This is truly one of the most amusing events of Fiesta, at which you can laugh at a lizard dressed in tiny little conquistador outfit or admire two adorable young ladies dolled up as Fiesta Barbies. The parade route begins across the street from the Inn in the parking lot of the New Mexico School for the Arts and winds down Palace Avenue to Grant Avenue, up to Marcy Street and down to the Plaza where the winners are announced.
Desfile de Los Ninos
La Sociedad Folklorica sponsors a Fiesta Fashion Show on Saturday, September 8 at 3pm at the James A. Little Theatre. La Merienda features vintage clothing from the society’s collection of traditional and antique dresses, and members of the society, along with their daughters and granddaughters, will be modeling the unique fashions. And fashion will be at the forefront at the Gran Baile de la Fiesta, a beloved tradition for over a century. Held in honor of the Fiesta royalty, the Gran Baile takes place at 7:30pm at the Convention Center, and attire will run the gamut from a queen’s robes to those of a monk and everything in between.
The last day of Fiesta, Sunday, September 9th, begins with a walk in the footsteps of New Mexico’s ancestors as they process with La Conquistadora from the Palace of the Governors to the historic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Arrival at the Cathedral is followed by a 10am pontifical mass officiated by the Archbishop of Santa Fe, an inspiring celebration with traditional music, a Native American dance prayer, mariachis and the full Fiesta Court.
The French Tower of Bishop Lamy
Sunday’s showcase event is the Desfile de La Gente, beginning at 12:30pm, a popular parade with high school bands, mariachis, sports teams, queens, floats, and politicians of every color, all of whom eventually end up on the Plaza. Known colloquially as the Historical/Hysterical Parade, this is always a lively local anything-goes event.
The official closing ceremonies of Fiesta take place at 5:15pm on the Plaza, and are followed by a solemn procession to the Cross of the Martyrs on the Paseo de Peralta beginning with mass at 7pm at the Cathedral. Participants wend their candle-lit way through the historic downtown, up the hill to the cross where the small vigil bonfires known as luminarias will be seen flickering in the dark.
The Cross of the Martyrs
Come join us for the fun – VIVAN LAS FIESTAS DE SANTA FE!
For lovers of art and heritage, the upcoming weekend promises many delights, as the 61st annual Santa Fe Spanish Market swings into the Plaza. With 183 artists in the Market, and an additional 52 youth artists exhibiting their work, this is an artistic and familial legacy that continues to grow in size and quality.
Spanish Market on the Santa Fe Plaza
Taking place on the historic Plaza, on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, from 8:30 am to 5 pm, the Market offers something for everyone, from straw applique to retablos to engraving to weaving and calaveras, too. If we’re lucky, we might even see some of that beautiful and increasingly rare colcha embroidery!
Calaveras con Corazon
And if your taste runs more to the cutting edge, the Contemporary Hispanic Market runs concurrently, spread along both sides of Lincoln Avenue, with 134 booths of art and artistry to peruse or purchase.
There will be food, of course, since it’s Santa Fe, and among other tasty events, there’s a cooking class with John Vollertsen, “Spanish Influence on New Mexico’s Norteno Cooking,” at Las Cosas on July 26 at 10 am. And if you just can’t make time for that class, don’t forget that the Inn offers a Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience with the experts from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, soon to be fully ensconced in their new location.
La Comida Muy Sabrosa!
Also on July 26, John Schaefer lectures on “Collecting Spanish Colonial Art” at Peyton Wright Gallery at 4:30 pm. On Friday July 27, at 9:30 am, Patina Gallery hosts a breakfast reception and lecture on the work of Enric Majoral. On Friday evening, a Market Preview opens at the Santa Fe Convention Center at 7 pm.
Listen for “la musica,” not only during the Saturday-Sunday Market itself. On Thursday, July 26, the Santa Fe Bandstand series gets into the act with homegrown favorites, Andy Primm and Alex Maryol, performing on the Plaza from 6 to 9 pm. Performances by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival take place in St. Francis Auditorium on Thursday, July 26 at noon and 6 pm, Friday, July 27 at 6 pm, Saturday, July 27 at 6 pm, and Sunday, July 28 at 5 pm. The Santa Fe Desert Chorale offers a concert, “Celebrating the Centenery,” at 8 pm on Saturday, July 28 at the New Mexico History Museum. The Santa Fe Opera serves up Giaochino Rossini’s Maometto II on Friday the 27th at 8:30 pm, and on Saturday the 28th, also at 8:30 pm, the premiere of Richard Strauss’ Arabella rounds out the season’s repertoire.
It looks like it will be a great weekend…will we see you there?
Yes, it’s summer, and the sunsets have been glorious, as will be the summer arts scene in the City Different.
Santa Fe Sunsets are Memorable
The Santa Fe Opera season opens on June 29th with a gala performance of Puccini’s Tosca. This year’s repertoire should be an opera fan’s delight, with five, count ’em five, new productions: In addition to Tosca, you can enjoy Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger, Giacomo Rossini’s Maometto II, andArabella by Richard Strauss, founder John Crosby’s favorite composer.
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival kicks off on July 15th and runs through August 20th, with many familiar names. The Orion String Quartet will return, as will flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni will take a night off from his opera duties to sing in town. And Santa Fe welcomes Alan Gilbert, conductor of the New York Philharmoic and former Music Director of the Santa Fe Opera, to the stage for several viola performances.
The Santa Fe Bandstand brings free music to the Santa Fe Plaza Monday through Thursday nights at 6pm beginning on July 5. Mondays and Wednesdays also feature concerts at noon, with all performances running through August 16.
The big arts events are all scheduled to return, with the exception of the SOFA show, which was sadly cancelled for this year.
Matluba Bazarova, featured Folk Artist from Uzbekistan
Handmade SilK and Felt Scarves from Kyrgyzstan
The 12th annual ART Santa Fe returns to the City Different from July 12-15. TheSanta Fe International Folk Art Market takes place on Museum Hill on July 13-15, followed shortly by the 61st Annual Spanish Market on July 27-29. And it wouldn’t be August without SWAIA’s Indian Market, with the 91st iteration taking place on August 17-19.
What’s new in Santa Fe? The Santa Fe School of Cooking is moving to its new digs on July 1st, with ground level access and their own parking lot. The new location is at 125 North Guadalupe Street.
317 Aztec has taken over the space of the former Aztec Cafe, bringing a focus on raw salads, juices and vegan/vegetarian items. The sorely-missed Plaza Cafe has yet to re-open, but we are watching the progress on Lincoln Avenue. The Palace Restaurant is definitely back in the saddle, complete with red-flocked wallpaper and the talents of Joseph Wrede, formerly of Joseph’s Table in Taos, headlining the kitchen. And there’s a patio in back!
The Sun-Dappled Patio at La Casa Sena
Speaking of outdoor dining, a patio does make for a wonderful evening, and the patio at Restaurant Martin is as gorgeous as the food. SantaCafe is always a stellar outdoor choice, and La Casa Sena has renovated their menu along with their patio. The patio at The Compound is always peaceful and cool, and the Coyote Cantina (sorry, no reservations) is always a lively scene.
Since your time may be better spent enjoying a daytrip, we are always happy to discuss dining options or make dinner reservations for you; you just need to call us at 888-984-2121 for suggestions or assistance.
Take a Daytrip into Beautiful New Mexico, Photo by Eric Swanson
Let us be YOUR Santa Fe!