After the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave sovereignty of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona to the United States. New Mexico, as a territory of Spain and then of Mexico, had been since colonial times under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Durango, but after the treaty ecclesiastical authority was transferred to the Catholic Church of the United States. In May 1849 the Provincial Council of the Catholic Church in Baltimore petitioned to Rome for the establishment of a provisional diocese (Vicariate Apostolic) in New Mexico to be headed by Lamy. In July 1850 the Vatican responded and established the Vicariate of New Mexico, naming Lamy as Vicar. In November Lamy was consecrated in Cincinnati, and he appointed Father Machebeuf to be his Vicar-General.
Lamy left immediately for his new post, going by way of New Orleans with his sister and niece whom he left at the Ursuline convent in that city. Lamy continued by ship to Galveston where he met with Bishop Jean Marie Odin who assigned him jurisdiction of three more towns near El Paso: Isleta, Socorro, and San Elizario. Bishop Odin advised Lamy not to proceed to New Mexico but rather to go to France first and bring some young French priests back with him to replace the Hispanic clergy in New Mexico whose moral and pastoral qualities he questioned. While Lamy did not follow the bishop’s advice to go to France, it was the first evidence of a cultural divide between European and native-born clergy that was to arise many times in his career in New Mexico.
Machebeuf caught up with Lamy in San Antonio and they traveled together to El Paso and then to New Mexico. Upon his arrival in New Mexico in June 1851 Lamy appeared at first to receive a warm welcome with a large and enthusiastic turnout of the populace as he made his way north from El Paso to Santa Fe. Reaching Santa Fe in August, he was again warmly greeted, but then the Vicario Foraneo (Rural Dean, in charge of the Santa Fe pastorate), Juan Felipe Ortiz informed Lamy that he (Ortiz) and the New Mexican priests under him did not recognize Lamy as the Bishop of Santa Fe. . . .
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The Mother Superior and Magdalena and Bernard attended the sick man. There was little to do but to watch and pray, so peaceful and painless was his repose. Sometimes it was sleep, they knew from his relaxed features; then his face would assume personality, consciousness, even though his eyes did not open.
Toward the close of day, in the short twilight after the candles were lighted, the old Bishop seemed to become restless, moved a little, and began to murmur; it was in the French tongue, but Bernard, though he caught some words, could make nothing of them. He knelt beside the bed: “What is it, Father? I am here.”
He continued to murmur, to move his hands a little, and Magdalena thought he was trying to ask for something, or to tell them something. But in reality the Bishop was not there at all: he was standing in a tip-tilted green field among his native mountains, and he was trying to give consolation to a young man who was being torn in two before his eyes by the desire to go and the necessity to stay. He was trying to forge a new Will in that devout and exhausted priest; and the time was short, for the diligence for Paris was already rumbling down the mountain gorge.
When the Cathedral bell tolled just after dark, the Mexican population of Santa Fé fell upon their knees, and all American Catholics as well. Many others who did not kneel prayed in their hearts. Eusabio and the Tesuque boys went quietly away to tell their people; and the next morning the old Archbishop lay before the high altar in the church he had built.
My late husband Mark and I went to Santa Fe twice. Once in 1989, before we were married--separate hotel rooms, if you please--and again in 1993. We flew to Albuquerque and rented a car in 1989 but drove a rented van from Wichita to Taos (where we stayed) and Santa Fe with our first Westie Ruffis accompanying us in 1993. During both trips we visited Archbishop Lamy's great Romanesque Cathedral of St. Francis. Cather depicts Archbishop Latour's last sight of that cathedral:
Wrapped in his Indian blankets, the old Archbishop sat for a long while looking at the open, golden face of his Cathedral. How exactly young Molny, his French architect, had done what he wanted! Nothing sensational, simply honest building and good stone-cutting—good Midi-Romanesque of the plainest. And even now, in winter, when the acacia trees before the door were bare, how it was of the South, that church, how it sounded the note of the South!
No one but Molny and the Bishop had ever seemed to enjoy the beautiful site of that building—perhaps no one ever would. But these two had spent many an hour admiring it. The steep carnelian hills drew up so close behind the church that the individual pine trees thinly wooding their slopes were clearly visible. From the end of the street where the Bishop’s buggy stood, the tawny church seemed to start directly out of those rose-colored hills—with a purpose so strong that it was like action. Seen from this distance, the Cathedral lay against the pine-splashed slopes as against a curtain. When Bernard drove slowly nearer, the backbone of the hills sank gradually, and the towers rose clear into the blue air, while the body of the church still lay against the mountain.
We attended performances at the Santa Fe Opera during both vacations: Massenet's Cherubin in 1989; Handel's Xerxes in 1993--both starring Frederica von Stade. Mark and I often talked about going back to Santa Fe, but never did. We thought about staying at the Bishop's Lodge outside of Santa Fe, which includes a chapel built by Archbishop Lamy on its grounds. Sadly, the Lodge is closed now, undergoing some delayed renovations, and the chapel is becoming dilapidated (as of May 2019):
The historic chapel was established by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy in the 19th century. The rest of the expansive facility has been around since the 1920s, according to a bulletin published by the Santa Fe Historical Society in 1987. Lamy built the chapel on a property north of the city that he bought for $80 as a personal retreat in 1869, the same time period that the Catholic bishop oversaw the construction of what became the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
SFR showed pictures of the chapel as it stands today to Mac Watson, chair of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation and a frequent visitor of the chapel before the site was closed for renovation.
"The roof shingles are in terrible shape, and given the amount of rain and snow we've had this year, it is hard to think that a great deal of water has not gone through the roof and inflicted damage to the interior," Watson tells SFR. . . .
I don't find any other updates on-line but I hope the chapel is taken care of soon.