San Miguel Chapel in Historic Santa Fe, New Mexico
March 1, 2021
The San Miguel Chapel is the oldest church in the continental United States and is over 400 years old. The area of Santa Fe in New Mexico has been populated for thousands of years, first as an ancient Pueblo settlement, then by the Spanish as part of their imperial conquests, next by the people of Mexico, and finally by the United States. There are many things that make the chapel unique, first from its history as a Franciscan missionary to a Catholic church as well as its architecture being built in the traditional adobe style of the region. The church is dedicated to the Archangel Michael and today it is privately owned and is open to the public to tour.
Construction of the chapel began in 1610 and the walls of the adobe building are the original walls, which requires constant upkeep to ensure they endure in the future. The ceiling of the church is held up by wooden beams, one of which is dated back to 1710. The San Miguel Chapel is located in the El Barrio de Analco National Register Historic District in Santa Fe, which also has the oldest house in the United States. There is a large oil painting of the Archangel Michael inside of the church as well as the nine panel wooden artwork that sits behind the altar. In addition to the artwork, there is the mission bell which was brought from Spain in the 17th century.
Although visiting the San Miguel Chapel will only take about thirty minutes, it is certainly worthwhile to do when visiting Santa Fe in New Mexico. The history of the chapel that was built by the Tlaxcalan Indians under direction of the Franciscan Padres is certainly quite fascinating. It is source of pride for the people of Santa Fe to this very day.