Taos County, New Mexico
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Our Lady of Guadalupe has a long history

This is the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe circa 1802. Photo courtesy Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
By Roger Martínez for The Taos News
Thursday, December 17, 2009 11:16 AM MST

On Nov. 18, 1801, permission was granted by Bishop Olivares in Durango to the community of Taos to build a church.

This church began as a mission of San Geronimo Parish at the Taos Pueblo, served by Fray José Benito Pereyro, OFM. In August 1826, the Franciscans, under Fray Mariano José Sanchez Vergara, OFM, the last Franciscan to serve Taos, turned the parish over to diocesan priest Antonio José Martínez.

In 1833, Bishop Zubiria, of Durango, decreed the making Our Lady of Guadalupe a parish. Fr. Martínez, already serving as pastor of San Geronimo, became the first pastor of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. This parish became the first parish under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe in what is now the United States.

The churches of San Geronimo and San Francisco de Asís in Ranchos de Taos then became Visitations of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. This first church honoring the pregnant Virgin of Guadalupe was built facing south on what is now a parking lot northwest of the historic Taos Plaza.

This adobe church was completed in 1802 and held the prayers of its parishioners for about 109 years when it was recognized by Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptiste Pitaval, to be irreparable and restoration was not an option. He ordered Fr. Joseph Giraud to bring down the old church and build a new church on the same site.

The second structure, also continued to be named in honor of Our Lady, was built on the same spot and completed before the year was over with a total budget of $11,000.

This house of prayer that witnessed many baptisms, weddings and funerals of parishioners was destroyed by an accidental fire July 24, 1961, by boys searching for pigeon eggs in the belfry.

Eighteen months later, after parish involvement at all levels, under the leadership of Fr. Alberto Chávez and the Parish Council, the new adobe edifice of Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated on Dec. 16, 1962, by Archbishop Edwin Byrne. Monsignor Charewicz had the opportunity to serve the parish from its completion until 1967 when he was replaced by Fr. Robert Beach.

Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish continues to serve parishioners of the Taos Valley including families of the historic St. Jerome Mission at Taos Pueblo, the chapels of Nuestra Señora de Dolores in Cañón, Santa Teresa de Avila in El Prado, Immaculate Conception in Ranchitos and San Antonio in La Loma, where Masses are held regularly.

Last year the parish had opportunity to get back the legendary La Morada de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which had been owned by the Taos Historic Museums since 1988. It had been built after the land was acquired from the Taos Pueblo in 1798. It's prayerful use had been consistent for almost 200 years, sitting near the base of the Sacred Taos Mountain.

This morada had been the center of New Mexico Penitente Brotherhood for much of that time. For the last couple of years, Stations of the Cross have been prayed on its Calvario during Lenten Fridays and a pilgrimage from the parish was taken, ending with Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish has several active organizations including the Mayordomos/Parish Council, Finance Council, Catholic Daughters, Holy Name Society, Guad alupanas, Peregrinos, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Knights of Columbus, Secular Franciscans, and the St. Michael's Youth Group.

There is a full religious education program having at least two classes per grade. There are three full-time choirs, a long list of Lectors, counters and two deacons — Deacon Donald Martínez and Deacon Jerry Quintana. This year, 2009, Our Lady of Guadalupe has had 176 years as a parish, and celebrated its 175th anniversary under the leadership of Fr. Lawrence Brito who has now served just over five years as its parish priest.

The parish's celebrations include: The Silver Rose Run Relay with a rosary, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Nov. 8; it celebrated the Feast of San Juan Diego with Masses,Dec. 6; vespers for the feast of the Immaculate Conception at the capilla with a community meal followin, Monday, Dec. 7.

The parish continues its celebration this weekend beginning with its fourth annual mariachi concert Friday (Dec. 11), the eve of Our Lady's feast, featuring Mariachi Buenaventura. At dawn Saturday (Dec. 12), the parish celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe by singing her Las Mañanitas.

Later that evening a Mass in celebration of the Virgen of Guadalupe will be held followed by a feast provided by the mayordomos and a pageant of the story of San Juan Diego and his visits with Our Loving Mother almost 500 years ago.

Roger Martínez is a mayordomo of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.

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