(Written in spring 2007 at request of Corina Santistevan, a self-proclaimed “preservationist” and Book Project Director for Taos County Historical Society, as contribution to her book Taos: A Topical History published by Museum of NM Press. Revised in fall 2013; Book Signing November 10, 2013.)
Rev. Juan Romero
Local iconoclasts in early 1993 maliciously torched the venerable east moradaof Abiquiú; about fifty miles northwest of Santa Fe, and then threw its santos under a culvert off Highway 84. That sacrilegious act horrified most Catholics and almost all of New Mexico’s people of good will. A morada is a sacred dwelling place used for the prayerful gatherings of the religious folk society Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, better known as the Penitentes. The adobe morada that the vandals attacked, located on a hilltop a short distance east of the parish church of Santo Tomás, is considered one of the earliest ever constructed. The oral history of the brotherhood traces its beginnings at least to the early eighteenth century. Its membership in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have for more than three centuries consistently maintained and promoted a deep devotion to the sacred passion of Our Lord. Abiquiú has been one of the focal points of the confraternity, and the hermanos have three distinct moradas in the vicinity of the church.
Within a few weeks of the desecration, Midwestern Presbyterian teenagers tempo
rarily residing at nearby Ghost Ranch, about fifteen miles northwest from the morada, answered a call to help repair the damage. They came and carefully helped plaster the outside of the scorched church, enjarrando the charred adobe walls with a fresh coat of mud mixed with straw. Having recently arrived from Los Angeles at the Christ in the Desert Benedictine monastery in Abiquiú, I also helped the cause of restoring the damaged morada. The monastery is about thirty miles northwest of the village of Abiquiú. Almost half of the road, the more scenic part, has purposefully been left unpaved to promote the recluse nature of the monastery.
The ecumenical cooperation of these Presbyterian youths would have horrified their religious ancestors, but would have immensely pleased Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos, born in Abiquiú in 1793. As his tombstone recalls, Padre Martínez died in 1867, after serving the people “for forty-two years,” the last decade in sad disjunction from his bishop. For most of his ministry in Taos, Padre Martínez was moderator and spiritual father for the hermanos penitentes, and had a long-term and most important influence on their cofradías.
Antonio José Martínez was baptized at the parish church of Santo Tomás on January 17, 1793—the feast day of Desert Father San Antonio Abad. This scion of the Martín Serrano clan was born at the Santa Rosa Plaza that had its own chapel a couples of miles east of Santo Tomás beside the Chama River where the family had their home. Fifteen miles or so northwest of Santo Tomas church on Highway 84, the majestic beauty of tall cliffs arise, layered in sandstone and sedimentary rock— yellow, brown, ochre, white, and pink. They framed the high desert landscape, over 6,000 feet that surrounded the young life of Antonio José until he was eleven when the family moved to Taos.
Grandmothers tell tales about the brujas that inhabit the mystic scape enchanting many spiritual seekers who call Abiquiú and its environs their home. Among them are monks—Catholic Benedictines and Muslim followers residing at the Bar Al Islam Mosque—reclusive movie stars and artists bewitched by the fascination of the area’s spiritual aura. For centuries, Abiquiú has been a welcoming place for Native American hunters, genízaros (Hispanicized Indians), buffalo soldiers, and mid-nineteenth century trekkers on their way to Los Angeles or other destinations West. For reasons of internecine warfare or draught in the thirteenth century, emigrant Anasazi from the Mesa Verde area traversed east and then south along the Río Chama and the Río Grande to construct and inhabit pueblos. A pueblo on Potsiungue hill ([spelling?] no longer standing) along the Río Chama near Abiquiú was one of the early Indian settlements, and another (still vibrant) was the Ohkay Owingeh village (San Juan Pueblo) at the convergence of the rivers Chama and Rio Grande about six miles north of present day Española. The Taos Pueblo is at the northern extremity of the Reio Grande. Much before there were Native American or Spanish settlers in the area, there were dinosaurs in prehistoric days when the tectonic plates of Panama and New Mexico were embracing. The secret of why dinosaurs became extinct is revealed in the especially sticky mud of the Chama River.
Among the great merits rightly credited to Padre Martinez was his contribution to the education and formation of adults and children. In the two decades from 1826 to1846, he founded an elementary school (1826), a seminary (1833) and law school (1846). He was also responsible for publishing on his printing press publications (broadsides, pamphlets, a newspaper and books) that covered religion, education, current events and politics. His greatest contributions, however, were to the religious and political life of New Mexico in its different incarnations under Spain, Mexico, and the United States. His impact upon the Penitent Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno must be counted one of his greatest contributions to the spiritual legacy of the history of New Mexico.
Devotion to the sacred passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly consistent with the Holy Scriptures, Catholic piety, and especially with the passionate character of the Spanish psyche. A few scripture quotes convey the message: “Take up your cross daily, and follow me,” was a frequent exhortation Jesus gave in various ways. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews spoke of discipleship,
learning from the Master, in blood-drenched but healing terms: “For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he receives.” “…all discipline seems a cause for grief…but later it brings forth the fruit of peace and justice…be…healed.” “In your fight against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.”
The literal extent to which these exhortations reached became manifested in the new world. Thirteen years after the Indian rebellion of 1680 and consequent expulsion of the Spanish colony, Don Diego de Vargas returned back to New Mexico with his soldiers, exiled settlers and companions from El Paso and territories further south. Also accompanying him were flagellants thoroughly imbued with the spirit and practice of the medieval societies that had deep devotion to the suffering Christ. A number of those accompanying De Vargas, including one of my own ancestors, Francisco Xavier Romero, settled in the area of Santa Cruz de La Cañada, not many miles to the east of present-day Española. It is not at all unlikely that some of these flagellants became the pioneers of what developed in an organization of Penitente Brotherhoods, and formed a hub for the practice and extension of the cofradías.
Membership in the Hermandad consisted primarily of men, but there are tales of groups of women members, one in the Monte Vista area of southern Colorado, and the other in Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos. The women of Colorado may still gather semi-formally to do corporal penance in a particular selected home, and the Arroyo Hondo women, La Sociedad de San Antonio, still meets at the Morada De Abajo. The small village of Arroyo Hondo with its two moradas—an upper and lower one— used to faithfully keep the feast of La Porciúncula on August 2, with the Vigil beginning in the evening of August 1.
The Hermanos provided a powerful religious presence and leadership for the Spanish settlers, especially in the more isolated areas of the older core of northern New Mexico, southern Colorado, and a beyond. On
Fridays of Lent, Hermanos would often lead long processions for the public recitation of the Stations of the Cross. They sometimes led a procession, taking the large image of the suffering Christ, Nuestro Padre Jesús, from the church to the morada, and other times, they would be seen in flagellant processions on Friday nights of Lent. However, current activities of the Penitentes more frequently include leading rosaries at funerals and singing alabados. Members of the Hermandad, the Brotherhood, usually gathered on Wednesdays and Fridays for the purpose of prayer and acts of penance and to prepare for activities of Lent and Holy Week, the culmination of their year. Penitentes led the celebration for other important feasts such as All Saints and All Souls (November 1 and 2), and for the patron saint of the local village that was always especially noted.
In the 20th century, many Penitentes while retaining memberships in their Cofradías also beame members of the Mutualistas, a secular counterpart with similar goals of charity to a neighbor. The organization also served as a Hispanic pioneer insurance fraternity especially useful at times of funerals. Historically and until today, Penitentes organized themselves for penitential practices as well as for mutual human aid of almost every kind. They bound themselves under their honor and oath, “to protect themselves mutually…for all, and to all that which might be just and beneficial…” (Emphasis mine)
The more ample name of the Penitent Brotherhood is La Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, an unwieldy but meaningful title.
• La Hermandad (or Cofradía): People from Mexico sometimes refer to people from New Mexico as “’manitos.” This comes from the custom that older New Mexicans retain in referring to a neighbor or anyone else of the community as “Mano Fulano.” “Mano” here has nothing to do with “hand,” but is an apocopated from of “hermano.” Addressing one another as “brother” and “sister” is certainly of the Gospel, a vocative based in the New Testament and currently used mostly in churches and labor unions. Its traditional use in northern New Mexican society until the twentieth century may be a reflection of the historical strength of the hermandades or cofradias, i.e., the brotherhoods.
• de Nuestro Padre: It might seem odd, if not heretical, to refer to Jesus as “Nuestro Padre.” After all, according to orthodox Christian theology, the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, is God the Father. (My emphasis) Jesus as the eternally begotten Son of the Father is the Second Person of the Trinity—equal to, yet distinct from the Father. Jesus succinctly states, “The Father and I are one.” Jesus told Philip the Apostle, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Trying to discuss the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in human language is difficult, and in the early fourth century, Arius, the priest from Alexandria, got it wrong. He preferred to emphasize the biblical verse, “The Father is greater than I.” He heretically taught that the Son is not equal to the Father, but this is not orthodox theology as defined by Catholic Church teaching in ecumenical councils. The heresy of Arianism effectively denied the divinity of Christ, and was finally defeated with the Council of Nicea in 325. The spiritual descendants of Arius in the fourth century considered God the Father as the only true God, and did not accept that Jesus Christ fully shared in the divine nature. Arians asserted Jesus Christ had a beginning and therefore was a creature. They taught that Jesus, although exalted, was not equal to God the Father. They also denied that the Holy Spirit was equal to both the Father and the Son, thus demoting the Holy Spirit to a third tier of spiritual energy.
Although defeated theologically in the first quarter of the fourth century, Arian influence lingered into the fifteenth century. Correctives to this heresy came from the Spanish Dominican priest Vincent Ferrer of Valencia (1350-1419), called the Angel of Judgment. He forcefully preached that Jesus is equal to the Father, and some of his insistence influenced Spanish devotion expressed in the term Nuestro Padre Jesús. (My emphasis)
Vincent Ferrer, a famous preacher, called for unity in Christ and his Church, and inveighed against the scandal of disunity promoted by rival claimants to the papacy: one in Avignon, France, and the other in Rome. The rift within high-level ecclesiastical politics disillusioned Vincent. He dedicated himself to preaching the need for repentance throughout various parts of Europe. He traveled with a team of priests and laypeople—men and women—and helped reconcile repentant sinners and catechized adults.
Among those who followed Vincent Ferrer were flagellants who scourged themselves in a penitential discipline. Vincent “had inspired [them] to make public atonement… without degenerating into fanaticism.” The flagellants expressed a strain of Christianity modern for the twelfth century that strongly emphasized the humanity of Christ. It was a reaction to the first centuries of Christian devotion that focused on the source of salvation as the risen Lord, the Christos Kurios, the Lord and Messiah proclaimed in the early church and whose glorious visage was reflected in the splendiferous icons of the pantocrator, ruler of the universe.
St. Francis of Assisi was the quintessential exponent of devotio moderna, “modern devotion” of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Francis gave us the crèche and Stations of the Cross, and moreover manifested wounds of Christ’s passion on his own body—the stigmata. Francis helped the universal church of both the East and West to appreciate that the transcendent Lord of Hosts who became a little child and who, in full maturity, was yet touchable, reachable and passible, i.e., capable of human suffering and death. There were, in total, “seven leading founders of this new spirituality” that emphasized the humanity of Christ.
During the Second Vatican Council that ended in 1963, the theological pendulum had reverted back to the ancient emphasis on the resurrected one: Jesus Christ the Lord. However, the experiences of believers and others oppressed in Latin America and Central America during the mid 1970s gave rise to a revived emphasis on the sufferings of Christ, His sacred passion and death. This was the reality to which they could more easily relate. Either the cross or resurrection by itself is incomplete. For salvation, both are necessary, and the complete paschal journey is through the cross to glory. Jesus Christ “had to suffer and die” before rising. We are called to the same paschal journey.
•Jesús Nazareno: The name Jesus was common enough in the first century of the Common Era. It means savior, and contains within itself a proclamation of faith in Jesus as savior of the world. “By his stripes, we are healed,” the prophet Isaiah spoke in prophetic vision about the Suffering Servant some seven centuries before Jesus was born. One of the bultos of Jesus venerated by New Mexicans and other peoples of Latin America is the wooden and gesso image of Jesus standing in a red or purple robe, hands tied, and crown of thorns piercing his bloody head. This image is referred to as Jesús Nazareno or simply El Nazareno. In Hispanic Catholic iconography, the title evokes the bloody image of the Suffering Servant. An Advent prophecy speaks of Jesus as a Nazarene: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” The messiah’s birth is to be from the root, stem, or stump of Jesse, the father of King David. The Hebrew word for root or stem is natzer, and some scholars see the attribution of Jesus as a “Nazarene” from this derivation as well as from the fact that Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, his boyhood home until young adulthood.
In his 1828 report, A Look At [Una Ojeada] New Mexico, Licenciado Antonio Barreiro, a Mexican layman and tax assessor responsible to the secular authority, painted a grim picture of the “doleful” financial situation of “the New Mexico” (La [Custodia] de Nuevo México). He gave it faint prospects for future potential revenue. He also painted a similar picture regarding New Mexico’s spiritual situation for the Cathedral Chapter of Durango, influencial in the process for the selection of the bishop to succeed Bishop Castañiza after his death. After the death of Bishop Castañiza, who had ordained Padre Martinez, Rome in 1831 appointed Don José Antonio Laureano de Zubiría y Escalante to succeed as the new bishop of Durango. Bishop Zubiría appointed Don Juan Rafael Rascón as Visitor General and Vicar of New Mexico, and sent him to reconnoiter the northern extremity of the Diocese of Durango in preparation for a futue visit of the new Bishop to Santa Fe and Taos. Padre Martínez sent a couple of his parishioners from Taos to Santa Fe in order to meet with Vicar Rascón during his visitation.
One of the delegates of Padre Martínez was Donaciano Vigil, later to have a very significant role in the history of New Mexico. The purpose of the delegation was to speak with Vicar Rascón in the name of sixty hermanos of the Third Order of San Francisco. They asked permission to fulfill their observances in Taos instead of at the headquarters of “The Third Order” in the Vila of Santa Cruz de La Cañada. These sixty “brothers” from Taos were most likely members of Los Hermanos Penitentes. Vicar Rascón had no objection that these Taoseños fulfill their religious duties as Third Order Franciscans at Taos instead of at Santa Cruz, but honoring proper jurisdiction, he referred the matter to the Superior of the Franciscan Order in New Mexico.
Padre Martinez, however, may have wanted something other than a convenience for his parishioners to fulfill a spiritual obligation closer to home. He seems to have coveted the role of spiritual leader in Taos of La Orden Tercera de Penitencia, the venerable and ecclesiastically approved religious society for lay faithful. The existence of the Franciscan Third Order in La Villa de Santa Cruz was as old as the settlement itself that dated to 1693. The Franciscan Custos, Guardian of the Province of St. Paul for New Mexico, was the superior of the secular Third Order for lay people. He was the one officially capable of delegating Padre Martinez to be the spiritual leader of the members of La Orden Tercera de Penitencia in the Taos area.
Aware of the dicey reputation of flagellants in the history of the church, and their subsequent condemnations for exaggerations, Padre Martínez wrote Bishop Zubiría in February 1833. In the letter that anticipated the first of three visits the Bishop would make to New Mexico, Martínez offered him quite a vivid description of the rites of the Hermanos who had been in existence “since time immemorial”:
During the time that I have had in my charge the spiritual administration of this parish, there has been a gathering of men belonging to the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ who have been carrying on penitential exercises during Lent. They do this especially on the Fridays of Lent and during all of Holy Week from Good Friday until Pentecost, and on other such meaningful days of the year. Their exercises consist in dragging large wooden crosses along the ground, in whipping themselves with scourges that they have for this purpose, and in piercing their backs with sharp rocks or blades of volcanic glass until blood spurts out. There are other forms of penitential exercises prescribed this way: walk barefoot, even in the snow and ice, and go without clothes except for loincloths or white pants over their private parts and a mask-neckerchief over the face so as not to be recognized but still able to see…. Moreover, they have the custom of walking in procession in front of the sacred images on the days of Holy Week. They say that this is the way allowed to them since time immemorial.
Padre Martinez admitted there were exaggerations. His letter may have been with the intent of posturing himself as one who could moderate excesses with the purpose of avoiding the Bishop’s explicit condemnation of the Hermanos during his imp
ending visit. In asking the Bishop’s advice, Martínez identified their growth in number, and the discord in their midst. He claimed he was trying to moderate the penitential practices by restricting them to nighttime activities and isolated places. His letter resumes:
Nevertheless, for now I have suspended them from public manifestations. Since the manner in which they have carried out their rituals until now seems to me to be out of harmony [muy disonante]. I have permitted them to carry out their penitential exercises only at night or in solitary locations during the day. In the proportion that their number has grown, discord has also come about among them, and other followers are scandalized. In all, I am consulting your Excellency about what I should tell them in this case: continue their practices, modify them or take them away. For all that is said, I beg Your Excellency to please give me your response as to what I should do in this case.
Before he left Durango for his visitation to New Mexico, Bishop Zubiría replied to Padre Martínez on April 1, 1833, as follows:
The indiscrete devotion of Penances that these Brothers or congregants, named for the Blood of Christ, cannot but excite one with a great disturbance of body and soul. In virtue of this, I heartily approve of what your words provide in order to suspend such excesses of public Penances. Hold fast to that prohibition, and call upon the help of the secular authority if necessary. With the pressure of things upon me, it seems more certain that I will not be able to see to it myself for now….
Meanwhile, would you privately exhort them to contain their Penitential practices within the privacy of the church–taking care to always carry them out with moderation. If they wish to placate divine justice and give pleasure to God as should be their desire, the best way to please Him ideally is to listen to the voice of their pastors and follow it with docility. In regards to the request about establishing a Third Order in that parish, we will talk about it upon my visit, and that will not be long in coming.
In July 1833, Bishop Zubiría arrived in New Mexico, coming to the parish of Santa Cruz de la Cañada near present-day Española before going to Taos. He left notations in the books of parish records, giving his approval to the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and that of the Blessed Sacrament. However, he wrote a notation in the parish books stating that he did not approve of “a certain Brotherhood of Penitentes, [that the Hermanos claim is] already ancient, that has existed in this Villa [of Santa Cruz de la Cañada].” During his visit, the Bishop learned that the Hermanos observed some days of corporal penance that were very hard, carrying heavy crosses for the long distance of five or six miles. Before he left the La Villa de Santa Cruz in the fall, Bishop Zubiría wrote a special letter condemning the Penitentes–a document he wanted promulgated in other places as well. He asserted the Brotherhood, in spite of its long existence in the area, was without the authorization or knowledge of its bishops. Their forms of penance were too excessive and “contrary to the spirit of the [Catholic] Religion…not at all in conformity with Christian humility.”
The Bishop seemed to leave a certain opening to the activities of the Brotherhood by stating that prayer gatherings for moderate penitential exercises could be held in the church. However, Bishop Zubiría felt obliged to close the door to flagellant abuses that “at one time made Holy Church shed tears.” Forbiding any priest of the Territory from officiating in any place for Penitentes, the Bishop annulled the Brotherhood of Penance and said it ought to remain extinguished. He exhorted everyone to most punctually obey his decision, reminding all that obedience was one of the most acceptable sacrifices offered to God. Bishop Zubiría remained in New Mexico until mid-October. Before returning to Durango, he wrote another letter, this one on the Sacrament of Penance. Although he did not forbid moderate penance, calling it healthful for the spirit, he forbade the use of the large wooden crosses, asked that instruments of mortification not be kept in the church, and referred to certain practices as butchery (carnecería).
After visiting Santa Cruz, Bishop Zubiría, went on to Taos —still in July 1833, and acceded to the request of Padre Martínez to take charge of the Franciscan society for lay people that included women; the Fra
nciscan Third Order had existed in New Mexico for almost a century and a half. At the behest of Bishop Zubiría, Fray Manuel Antonio García del Valle, OFM–as the superior of the Third Order in New Mexico and the Franciscan Custodian of the New Mexico Province of the Conversion of St. Paul—made the appointment official at the end of July. Padre Martinez was now the director of the venerable Orden de Terceras de Penitencia in Northern NM, and Fray Garcia del Valle entrusted the Padre “with power as full as that which we exercise.” This enabled bringing the Penitentes under the general umbrella of the Franciscan Third Order.
Within the folds of the habit of the secular Franciscan Third Order, it seems to me, Padre Martinez re-configured the Hermanos of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno and its practices in order to protect them from the effects of episcopal censure. In this way, the brothers not only survived but also flourished as an important and viable force of mutual help and religious devotion within the isolated and rural communitarian structure of New Mexico. Padre Martinez helped the brotherhood to maintain and deepen cultural and religious ties among the local community and beyond. He was a moderating influence, a spiritual father and guide, promoter, as well as organizer of the Penitent Brotherhood.
Although layman Bernardo Abeyta, founder of the Santuario of Chimayó, was the “kingpin of nearly all the Brotherhood activity until 1855, “from Conejos area to Cochití for sure,” Padre Martinez was the one mainly responsible for molding the organization into its modern form. His role in the formation of the Penitentes’ organization–its practice and development –was influenced by the landscape of Abiquiú and Taos that imbued his boyhood, the religious heritage he personified, the circumstances of his own life and the developing history of New Mexico as it adapted to New Mexico’s changing history that Padre Martinez also helped shape.
The attitude of Padre Martínez toward Penitentes seemed to have changed from a negative perception, conveyed to Bishop Zubiría, to a very positive one. Some opine this was a result of the American occupation of 1846. “Changes in sovereignty in the introduction of foreign cultures symbolically transformed the Penitent brotherhood into the preserves of traditional Hispano spirituality.”
Many moradas, “dwelling places” where Penitente devotions and activities took place, existed in the Taos area during the 19th century, and an significant cluster continues today around the Taos area: Arroyo Seco, Ranchos, and Talpa. By 1827, six years after Mexican Independence from Spain and shortly after Padre Martinez arrived as the priest-in-charge of Taos where he had lived with his parents since boyhood, thirty or so families were living in the new plaza at Río Chiquito, a tributary of the Río de las Trampas in the vicinity of Ranchos de Taos. The village today is called Talpa after Our Lady of Talpa venerated especially in the sourthern mountainous region of Jalisco. Don Bernardo Durán, one of the more prosperous citizens of Río Chiquito, petitioned Padre Martinez on behalf of the families for the right to recognize the Virgin Mary as their special patroness under the title of Our Lady of San Juan (Bautista) de Los Lagos, venerated in the northern part of Jalisco. The following year, Bernardo Durán built the chapel of San Juan d Los Lagos. On the occasion of his 1833 visit to the area, Bishop José Antonio Laureano de Zubiría gave permission to have Mass and other liturgical services at the chapel of San Juan.
The Marian shrine of Talpa in Jalisco is a place of pilgrimage dating to the mid seventeenth century. It is characterized by twin gothic spires, and is located more than a hundred miles southeast of Mexico City, and another hundred miles inland from Acapulco. The devotion to Our Lady of Talpa arrived in the Taos area about 1815, and flowered some twenty years later with the building of the private Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa for which the local village is named. Nicolás Sandoval, an active and influential member of the Brotherhood in the Taos Valley, built the Talpa chapel at his
own expense next to his own home, and very near to the chapel of San Juan. 40 A decade after the San Juan de Los Lagos chapel was built, Sandoval in 1838 established nearby his private chapel in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa. The northern New Mexico small chapel, named for the Mexican shrine in southern Jalisco, signaled lively commerce on La Caravana from Mexico City through Chihuahua to Taos.
The Coming of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy
On July 1, 1851, Lamy wrote to the clergy of New Mexico and announced his impending arrival. The roof of the Talpa Chapel was being re-roofed at the exact time that Jean Baptiste Lamy was arriving at Santa Fe as the new Vicar Apostolic and soon-to-be first Bishop of Santa Fe. Painted anew, dated July 2, 1851, an inscription on a plank (latilla) of the new ceiling announced that the chapel was for the “use of [a la dispocición de…] the priest Don Antonio José Martínez.” The person who helped refurbish the church and painted the plank signed his name as José Samora. The last name is not common in New Mexico. A person by the same name was the “President or Elder Brother (Hermano Mayor) and Councilman José Francisco Zamora” in 1857, and he may be the same person.
Although Padre Martinez initially tried to ingratiate himself with the new ecclesiastical authority, upon request lending his counsel in canonical matters and making a financial loan, the relationship never warmed. Almost from the start, Lamy was in tension with the powerful Padre Martinez of Taos. Within a year of his arrival, the new Bishop re-imposed a system of tithing that Padre Martinez—as a young priest—had helped terminate. Martinez had claimed it was an excessive burden on the poor, but Lamy, within a couple of years of his arrival, threatened to bar from the sacrament of Eucharist those who did not comply. In the newspaper La Gaceta de Santa Fe, Padre Martínez publicly denounced his Bishop for simony and hucksterism because of his insistence on tithing under pain of censure.
Padre Martinez later tried to take back some of his intemperate public statements and, in other correspondence, told Bishop Lamy he was thinking of retiring because of health concerns.
Because of an illness, Padre Martinez returned home to Taos in early 1822 shortly after ordination, but before finishing some course. That lack impeded his becoming officially named a pastor, although he was in charge of various parishes, he went back to Durango where he had studied as a seminarian for a year’s sabbatical in 1840. Finally, after many years, Padre Martínez was canonically named an “irremovable pastor,” CURA PROPRIO of the parish of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Taos where he had grown up as a young man and where he had been serving as priest-in-charge (interim pastor) since 1826. Now, according to the canon law of the time, Padre Martínez could not be removed from his parish except for grave cause and only after formally requesting a transfer in a letter.
Padre Martinez wrote Bishop Lamy a letter complaining about health concerns. He also suggested that he was thinking about retiring at some future date. The Bishop chose to understand the letter as a request for retirement and accepted an offer that Padre Martínez did not explicitly make. Although it is not easy to remove a pastor, ultimately a Bishop can move or retire any priest from his diocese. Bishop Lamy appointed Padre Damask Taladrid, a priest had met in Rome, as the new pastor to Taos in May 1856. The former Spanish army officer did not at all get along with the former pastor of Taos, and their antagonism was mutual. Father Taladrid wrote to Bishop Lamy
to denounce Padre Martinez for celebrating Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa.
Father Taladrid apparently drafted series of Twelve Rules for the Penitentes in order to attempt to exert control over the Brotherhood, or at least codify their norms for easier reference by the Bishop or his surrogates. He urged Padre Martinez to relinquish his spiritual authority over the Third Order Lay Franciscans, but Padre Martinez of course demurred, saying he could not give up his sub-delegation of authority over the Third Order since it was given to him personally. On October 27, 1856, Bishop Lamy promulgated the Twelve Rules for the Penitentes and on the same day, officially suspended Padre Martínez from performing his priestly functions: celebrating Masses, hearing Confessions, and preaching.
Father Eulogio Ortiz, now the Bishop’s secretary, succeeded Father Taladrid as the priest in charge of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos. In the spring of 1857, “His Grace Don Juan Lamy graciously granted permission to continue the devotion [my emphasis] of the Passion and death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, as a penance, by all the devotees.” On March 9, 1857, the Bishop promulgated an additional Five Rules for Penitentes, a complement to the Twelve Rules that “[Father] Taladrid himself had formulated for the Brotherhood.” The promulgation of rules for Penitentes—Five Rules drafted by Father Ortiz in addition to the Twleve Rules presented by Father Taladrid—clearly showed that Bishop Lamy recognized the existence of the Brotherhoods and approved of them to the extent their members follow the rules. The 9th and 10th rules specifically require that all members of the Brotherhood obey and respect Bishop Lamy and their legitimate parish priest. The rules expressly permitted the Brothers to do penance, as has been their custom for many years back, with these provisos: that the penance be hidden, that it does not give scandal to the rest of the faithful, and is not done with excessive pride. These concerns echo the Special Letter that Bishop Zubiría had written for the Penitentes in 1833, but without any condemnation attached. The treatment of Penitentes under Bishop Lamy, it must be said, was happily more moderate and pastorally more sensitive to the popular religion of New Mexicans than either that of his Mexican episcopal predecessor Zubiría or fellow Frenchman and successor Bishop Jean Baptiste Salpointe.
Twelve years after the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy–exhorting the Penitentes not to allow themselves to follow “a false species of devotion,” a formula later echoed by Protestant critics, somewhat moderated his approval of the Penitentes. Archbishop Salpointe, almost twenty years after the death of Padre Martinez, forbade Penitente flagellation and public dragging of their wooden crosses. Six years after that prohibition, in 1892, Archbishop Salpointe responded to a petition of the Penitentes to be recognized and approved by him, but now his response to the Penitentes’ request for recognition and approval was roundly in the negative. Salpointe would later become the Bishop of Arizona,
Father Taladrid under a cloud, left the pastorate of Guadalupe Church in Taos. Padre Martinez was hoping that Padre Medina, one of his seminary students, would eventually become the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but Bishop Lamy sent Father José Eulogio Ortiz in 1857 to replace Taladrid as pastor. Padre Martinez was at first pleased to welcome Ortiz, a native New Mexican and one of his alumni in the pre-theology seminary. Young Father Eulogio Ortiz was also the nephew of former Vicar Padre Juan Felipe Ortiz. However, as a young priest, Father Eulogio had accompanied Bishop Lamy on one of his trips to Rome, was a favorite of the Bishop, and not at all sympathetic to Martínez.
Padre Martinez may have invited ecclesiastical censure for publicly denouncing his Bishop in the press, accusing him of simony: exacting tithes under pain of exclusion from Holy Communion for those who did not comply. He may also have invited censure for presiding at the marriage of his favorite niece to Pedro Sánchez in his newly built private oratorio after Father Taladrid had refused permission for Martinez to officiate at the wedding in the parish church. There were rumors, but no proof of unbecoming or illicit moral behavior, asserted Vicar General J.P. Machebeuf, although the Padre did sire children. Nevertheless, Padre Martínez was not prepared for the most severe censure of excommunication thon the heels of a tiff with Father Eulogio Ortiz regarding accutrements from the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa during Holy Week of 1858.
Father Eulogio Ortiz, the new pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Taos, surreptitiously took from the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa some Penitente-related images. Padre Martínez became irate and, expecting just recourse, passionately reported the incident to Bishop Lamy. Instead of recriminating Father Ortiz, within two weeks after the Talpa Chapel altercation with Father J. Eulogio Ortiz, Bishop Lamy excommunicated Padre Martinez on Low Sunday, the Sunday after Easter!
By 1861, Nicolás Sandoval was most likely the Hermano Mayor for the Brothers in Ranchos de Taos. In that year, he was one of thirteen Penitente leaders in the county of Taos whose names appear on the “Act to Incorporate the Pious Fraternity of the County of Taos, January 30, 1861.” This was an attempt to organize the moradas of the Taos valley into a legal entity for protective purposes. Sandoval was also one of the five leaders in Taos County to formulate the “Constitution of Rules for the Internal Government of the Pious Fraternity of the County of Taos,” written February 23, 1861. This 1861 Constitution included a statement affirming the Taos Brotherhood’s right to possession of “any buildings and possessions belonging to the Brotherhood since olden times,” and the right to “claim them before any civil authority using all possible means to gain possession or obtain a just and fitting restitution.” The intention here most likely was to prevent the Church hierarchy or institution form gaining title to their chapels and moradas. Padre Martínez, in spite of his excommunication, continued using unlicensed chapels throughout the County, such as Nicolás Sandoval’s Our Lady of Talpa, to celebrate Mass and the sacraments for a large portion of the Hispanic population. He continued “until his death in 1867 as the de facto spiritual leader in Taos County.”
Manifest Destiny provided a providential opportunity for Protestants to evangelize the “perverted” Hispanic Catholicism of the Penitentes and of all people in the Southwest. “Calvinism—ministers of the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist religions and others of that ilk—had a horror of ritual in the 19th century, but Congregationalists and Presbyterians eased up in the 20th century,” observed Father Steele. Their missionaries published descriptions of the Penitentes as a part of their missionary strategy to demonstrate the importance of their task and to describe challenges and hardships they faced. Their sentiment was that these neo-pagans of Spanish Catholic ancestry need a conversion to the real Jesus. Their descriptions of bloody rituals and practices were calculated to elicit horror from Eastern Protestants who would then become more disposed to support their missionary efforts with funds and personnel.
Presbyterians claimed that Penitentes became Protestants because of the indirect support of Padre Martínez who was excommunicated by Bishop Lamy. Some Penitentes did become Protestants and served as the core of several Spanish-language Presbyterian congregations in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. By the end of the nineteenth century there were about 3,000 adult Hispano Protestant church members organ
ized in about 100 congregations in New Mexico and southern Colorado.
Several family members and others close to Padre Martínez became Presbyterians, including Pascual Martínez, the Padre’s youngest and favorite brother. Pedro Sánchez, whom Padre Martinez married to his niece in his own oratorio, flirted with Presbyterianism in the 1860s, but was later reconciled to the Church during some missions the Jesuits under the leadership of Father Donato Gasparri gave in the Taos area after Padre Martínez died in 1867. Almost forty years later, in 1904, Sánchez authored his panegyric Memorias Sobre La Vida del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos wherein he makes no mention of church controversies.
José Domingo Mondragón is reputed to have been an Hermano Mayor of the Ranchos de Taos area. He and Vicente Romero became elders of the first Presbyterian Church in Taos in 1873, located across the road from the residence of Padre Martínez and later at El Prado adjacent to the Taos Pueblo. Mondragón was a candidate for ministry by 1877 and obtained his licentiate in theology by 1878. He held the church title of Evangelist and served in Taos and Ranchos de Taos from 1880 to 1895, spending 1884 in Mora—about seventy miles away.
José Vicente Ferrer Romero, also a lay evangelist, was an illegitimate son Padre Martínez, born in Taos of the widow Teodora Romero only two years before the American occupation in 1846. It was a highly conflictive time both in civil society and in the church of Santa Fe. Until his death in 1912, at the age of 68, Vicente Ferrer Romero served as an active and effective lay evangelizer for the Presbyterian Church in northern New Mexico.
After the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy invited Jesuit missionaries to attempt to bring heal the breach. In January 1869, the Italian Jesuit Father Donato M. Gasparri held a preaching mission in Taos of over two weeks duration. One account claims that more than 3,000 persons took part in the spiritual exercises and were reconciled through the sacrament of Penance, some relatives of Padre Martínez among them. It was reported that the Jesuit missionaries convalidated seventy-six marriages at which Padres Martinez and Lucero assisted, considered invalid because of their lack of jurisdiction. Nevertheless, as E.K. Francis wrote in 1956,
The whole series of events left a wound in the side of the Catholic Church in New Mexico that was long to heal, and the scar can yet be felt. To the Spanish-American minority, however, the wholesale removal of the native clergy has been a tragedy, for it deprived them of their natural leaders capable of cushioning the shock of conquest from which as a group the Hispanos have never quite recovered.
Reyes N. Martínez of Arroyo Hondo told a story claiming that a Penitente going to the calvario at the upper morada in Arroyo Hondo dropped to his knees, jolted the carriage with Doña Sebastiana inside, and “released the arrow that pierced his kidney and killed him.” Mi Comadre Doña Sebastiana rides the Death Cart, a wooden carving dear to the Penitentes and many older northern New Mexicans. Death comes “in the wink of an eye”—accoridng to a popular Latin saying pertaining to death, part of Catolic culture for centuries. We are also exhorted to remember death because “time flies.” The figure represents Death, not as a macabre reality, but as St. Francis would have it, “Sister Death.” She is comadre, i.e., a member of everyone’s family. The family treats her with respect, calling her Doña. She is named after St. Sebastian, a post-logical allusion to the third-century Roman saint who was martyred with arrows. This is supposed to have taken place in 1867, the year of Padre Martínez’ death.
Maybe it is a metaphor of the dying of a people that took place along with its leader. However, even with—and maybe especially among—Penitentes, there is hope of resurrection.
The esteem in which Padre Martinez was held by the villages of Taos, and particularly by the Penitente Brothers, is attested by the fact that upon his death—after a Vigil of thirty-six hours–more than 300 members of La Fraternidad Piadosa de Condado de Taos and other Hermanos from all over northern New Mexico marched in his funeral procession.
“Never” is long time, and the “never” that E. K. Francis talked about may be near. The healing process is slow, but full recovery of the enlightenment brought to New Mexico is once again on the horizon of this reluctant dawn because of the renewed interest in Padre Martínez and a greater appreciation of his rightful place in the history of New Mexico and the Catholic Church.
 Cf. Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 70. A morada is a special gathering place of the Hermanos Penitentes of New Mexico
 Images of a patron saint or sacred theme crafted by a santero, either traditionally painted with vegteble dyes on wood or carved from a piece of wood.
 Literally translates to Our Father Jesus the Nazarene, a folk brotherhood in northern New Mexico with great devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ.
 The Penitentes are a lay religious franternal organization, a “brotherhood” or cofradía.
 The adobe churches of New Mexico are made of “living stones,” i.e. dried mud bonded by straw. It is mixed by hand, and renewed by massaging (plasterning) new wet med and straw for renewal and repair. The communal process is called ejarrar.
 A brotherhood or fraternal organization with charitable or religious purposes whose membership meet from time to time to carry out their purposes.
 A witch in Hispanic mythology is a woman with spiritual power, for good or evil. Most witches in New Meican folklore are benevolent, e.g. Ultima of Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 novel Bless Me, Ultima recently made into a film.
 Native American tribes gave this nickname to African American soldiers of the 10th Army Regiment of the U.S. Army, formed at Fort Levenworth in 1866. Several of these retired soldiers settled in the Abiquiu Area.
 Mt. 16: 24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9: 23; Lk. 14, 26; Lk. 18:29-34
 Heb. 12:6
 Heb. 12:10-13
 Heb. 12:5
 My uncle Tomás Romero researched the patriarchal family tree by from documents handed down in the family.
 The area of Santa Cruz de La Cañada was a stronghold of Penitente activity. By 1739, Santa Cruz was a point of departure for migration westward to Abiquiú and Tierra Amarilla, and by 1775 northward to Taos and into southern Colorado.
 This is a very Franciscan feast in honor of Our Lady Queen of Angeles who is honored at a basilica built at Assisi in the seventeenth century. The basilica was constructed by devotees of the Povorello, St. Francis, who in the thirteenth century used to pray at a Benedictine-built wayside chapel at Assisi. After Francis gathered followers, they used to meet there, and he died there (his transitus) on October 3, 1226. The small chapel within the large basilica came to be called Porciúcula or little portion.
 Hymns of praise whose tone modality was often doleful, frequently sung at the Rosary vigil the evening before funerals.
 Weigle, p. 214. Appendix XII – Archbishop Salpointe’s Circular on the Penitentes, English Version – February 7, 1892.
 Jn. 14: 8
 Jn. 14:28
 Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p. 681, Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C., c. 1967.
 Durwell, F.X., C.Ss.R., The Resurrection: A Bilbical Study, NY, Sheed and Ward, 1960, pp. 359. http://www.hprweb.com/2012/03/the-60th-anniversary-of-f-x-durwells-classic-the-resurrection-a-biblical-study/
 Is. 53:5
 Is. 11:11
 Weigle, op. cit. p. 23
Weigle, op. cit., p. 29, and p. 234, footnote #38. Flagellant sects emerged two different times in Europe, and were powerful and schismatic enough to provoke Church denunciation. The first time they emerged was in Italy following the Black Plague in 1260, and the second time was in Germany during the fourteenth century. The Council of Constance in 1417 decreed against them. Public flagellations were not common until the end of the fourteenth century (1580s) when the apocalyptic preaching of St. Vincent Ferrer contributed to their rise in cities such as Valencia…and Seville.
 Father Steel notes that, “In Taos County, women need not apply.” However, there is a tradition that women at Arroyo Hondo were involved in penitential practices and devotions at the Lower Morada dedicated to the honor of San Antonio.
Library, San Marino; unpublished manuscript, English version by Juan Romero, prepared 1993, p. 45.
 Notation of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J. on essay.
 Notation of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J.: “In 1860, Taos got itself organized, and I’m willing to bet that Padre Martinez was involved….the [civil] incorporation [of the Hermanos Penitentes] probably had his fingerprints all over it.”
 Cf. Marta Weigle, op. cit., pp. 47-51, “Enigmatic Role of Don Antonio José Martinez.” Father Steel in proofreading this manuscript noted, “AJM worked both sides of all streets.”
 Cf. Wroth, ibid., pp. 103 sq., passim. It was later called the Duran Chapel after one of Sandoval’s daughters who married Francisco Duran. My paternal grandmother Margarita Vigil was a granddaughter of Nicolas Sandoval who built this chapel
in the 1830’s. Margarita’s grandmother was Juana María Sandoval, the daughter of Nicolas. Juana María married Francisco Duran for whom the chapel came to be known.
 Bishop Lamy may have wanted to ingratiate himself with the natural powerbase of Padre Martínez, the Hermanos Penitentes.
 Weigle, op. cit., pp. 206-207. Bishop Lamy’s Lenten Pastor
al of 1879.
 AASF, L.D. 1858, No. 17, quoted in Talpa Chapel, Ibid. p. 36. Padre Ortiz appeared before the District Court in Santa Fe, and this is documented in a letter written April 12, 1858 by Judge Kirby Benedict of the Federal District Judge for Taos and Santa Fe. (Ibid. p. 36) The Taos Brotherhood’s Constitution and own rules of February 23, 1861, drafted by Nicolás Sandoval and four others, was a clear attempt to protect the Brothers from any further attacks of this kind. “The Hermano Mayor may also apprehend any person who is not a member of the society and who ridicules, disturbs, or in any way hinders the spiritual exercises of the said fraternity. He may enter legal action against him before the civil authorities in the name of the Fraternity of the County of Taos.” Quoted in Ibid, pp. 36-37.
 Cf. Randi Jones Walker, Protestantism in the Sangre de Cristos: 1840s-1900s.
 AASF, L.D. 1858, No. 17, Troy, n.d. Ch. IV: 2-3 quoted in Ibid. p. 37.
 Brother of Cleofas Jarfamillo, author of Shadows of the Past, and author in his own right. He wrote several items for the Works Projects Administration during the 1930s.
 In ictu oculi – In the wink of an eye, i.e. quickly, unexpectedly.
 Tempus fugit, memento mori. = Time flies, remember death.
 Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 170.
 Weigle, op. cit., p. 49.