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Santa Fe, New Mexico: San Miguel Chapel


History of the San Miguel Chapel:

The old bell at the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The old bell at the San Miguel Mission

Presumed to be the oldest church in the U.S., this chapel dates from 1628, or perhaps earlier. The earliest written record we have is from 1628. Over the past 400 years it has been re-built or restored several times. It is believed that it was constructed by Tlaxcalan (Tas-cal’-en) Indians, who came to New Mexico from old Mexico in 1598 with a Spanish contingent led by Don Juan Onate. In its early years, the church served a small group of Tlaxcalan Indians, laborers, and Spanish soldiers who lived in this area on the south side of the Santa Fe River.


About the San Miguel Chapel today:

The original dirt floor and sanctuary steps were uncovered during a major restoration in 1955, and were left uncovered for you to see, just beyond the Communion rail.

The magnificent altar at the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe
The magnificent altar at the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe

The wooden altar screen, or reredos, at the front of San Miguel Chapel is one of the oldest in New Mexico. The inscription on the lower left-hand corner reads: “This altar was erected through the piety of Don Jose Antonio Ortis in the year 1798.”

If you look at the photo on the right, in the center of the rederos is a statue of San Miguel (St. Michael), the patron of San Miguel Chapel. It was carved in old Mexico around 1700 and was brought by Franciscan Friars to Santa Fe.

Above the statue of San Miguel is a large painting of Christ the Nazarene that dates from the mid-18th century and was rediscovered behind the altar screen by archeologists in 1955. The painting of St. Michael the Archangel above it dates from 1745.

San Miguel Chapel offers Latin Mass at 2:00 p.m. on Sundays and Ordinary (Novus Ordo) Mass at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

The Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe sings Vespers and a Gregorian chant Mass every third Sunday of the month at 4:00 p.m.

The Chapel is open during most of the week for prayer and for visitors.


Traveling to the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe:

Address: 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501

GPS coordinates: 35° 41′ 0.5136” N, 105° 56′ 15.1548” W

Tel:    +1 (505) 983-3974

email:   Use the contact form on their website.

Click here for the official website of San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photos courtesy travel blogger Teresa Bergen

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