All posts by Padre Juan

Born in Taos, NM--youngest of three boys. Ordained a priest for Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1964, served in several parishes, pastor in three. National special ministry twice: executive director of PADRES organization 1972-1975, coordinator of Tercer Encuentro Hispano de Pastoral 1984-1985. Author of RELUCTANT DAWN: A Biography of Padre Martinez published in 1975, second edition 2006. Retired from administration, and helping as a "supply priest" in Diocese of San Bernardino. Maintain blog dedicated to Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos (1793-1867)



Juan Romero

As a young priest, Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos, objected to the system of tithing that he perceived to be a severe burden on the poor. He formally voiced his opposition since 1829, only three years after he arrived back in Taos as the priest in charge of his boyhood church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, an extension of the parish church of San Geronimo headquartered at the Taos Pueblo since about 1620.  As a civil legislator for the Departamento de Nuevo Mexico in the still new Republic of Mexico, independent from Spain since 1821, Padre Martínez advocated abolishing tithing.  In a union of church and state, the government was in charge of collecting tithes as income to pay expenses of government including military salaries as well as church expenses including the salary of clergy. Padre Martinez served various times as one of the legislators representing New Mexico within the Assembly of the Republic of Mexico, and also later as a Representative for the USA Territory of New Mexico. As a member of the Asamblea del Departamento de Nuevo Mexico, Padre Martínez campaigned to change the law so that tithing would no longer be mandatory. Without objection from the Bishop of the Diocese of Durango to which Taos and all of New Mexico and beyond then belonged—the northern frontier of the Kingdom of Spain—Padre Martínez successfully advocated for a change in the policy.  Tithes were abolished by the mid 1830s.

With its occupation by Colonel Steven Watts Kearney in August 1846, New Mexico became a part of the United States, but remained for a few years under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durango, Mexico. However in July 1851, Jean Baptiste Lamy arrived at Santa Fe as the new Vicar Apostolic. He came from Ohio where he had served as a missionary from France. Padre Martínez joined other native New Mexican priests, as well as the Spanish Franciscan clergy and laypeople, in welcoming the new prelate who became the first bishop of New Mexico. The Vicariate Apostolic of New Mexico shifted from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durango, Mexico to the Bishop of St. Louis, Missouri until Santa Fe became a diocese in its own right in 1853. It became an Archdiocese in 1875. Padre Martinez made overtures to ingratiate himself with Bishop Lamy.  For his part, Lamy initially sought advice from the Padre known for expertise in canon law, and even borrowed money from him who came from a relatively wealthy family.

However, the relationship began to sour and more so with the 1854 promulgation of a Pastoral Letter of the Bishop that reinstituted the policy of tithing.  In his attempt to finance the operation of the new diocese, Bishop Lamy imposed the penalty of denying Christian burial to those who did not contribute to the church their tithe, one tenth of family income. Meanwhile, the public controversy over tithes and the Pastoral Letter of 1854 was heating up.  Bishop Lamy re-introduced tithing to meet new expenses, but also concomitantly imposed a harsh sanction of excluding from the rites of Christian burial those families that did not comply.  Through his writings in the secular newspaper La Gaceta of Santa Fe, Padre Martínez strenuously and publicly objected to this change in policy regarding tithes, and  denounced Bishop Lamy for “huckerism and simony”.

After serving in his beloved Taos for three decades as a busy parish priest, educator, printer, publisher and politician, Padre Martinez was tired and feeling sickly.  He thought it might be a time for a change in his own life, maybe even retirement. He shared his musings with Bishop Lamy who by then had been in charge of the church in New Mexico for five years.  In a letter dated January 28, 1856, Padre Martinez advised Bishop Lamy of his ill health: bladder infection and severe rheumatism that made walking difficult.  He requested help, preferably a native New Mexican priest as an assistant. Martínez specifically asked for Don Ramón Medina whom he had trained in preparatory seminary, and suggested that Padre Medina succeed him. However, Bishop Lamy chose to interpret the letter as a formal “resignation” and countered with the appointment of another priest he put in charge of the Taos parish, effective within three months, by May 1856: Don Dámaso Taladrid. 

Bishop Lamy had met the Basque priest during one of his trips to Rome, recruited him and appointed him to Taos. Father Taladrid had little regard for the ill health of Padre Martínez or for his many years of service at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish and its environs.  Within a short time, friction developed between the two priests. Taladrid made it difficult for Martínez to celebrate Mass in the church, so Martínez began to build a private oratory with its walled cemetery on his own property and at his own expense. Soon, in June, Taladrid reported to Bishop Lamy that Martínez was building the chapel. [AASF Reel 30, pages 529-530] Private chapels of devotion were common among some people of New Mexico, and the custom–less prevalently–continues to this day.

The visions/goals of parish ministry and distinct personalities of Padre Martínez and Father Taladrid clashed. In a letter of October 1, 1856 Padre Martínez advised Bishop Lamy that he was building a chapel next to his home since Father Taladrid did not allow him to use the parish church for weddings and funerals of family members and close friends. The Bishop learned that the wedding of the Padre’s favorite niece (Refugio Martínez to one of his former students Pedro Sanchez) would take place at the Padre’s chapel.

The Bishop’s response to Martínez’ letter was not a letter in kind, but rather a harsh action quickly meted out within a few weeks: suspension. Suspensio a divinis is the ecclesiastical censure by which a cleric, for a breach of discipline or for moral cause, is prohibited from exercising “the divine things” of priestly ministry.  By means of “suspension”, the bishop deprives the suspended priest from his faculties (license) to celebrate Mass, preach, or hear Confessions as well as to give Absolution except in danger of death.  In such a case, through the mercy of God, “ecclesia supplet”, i.e., the church supplies faculties and jurisdiction for a suspended or excommunicated priest to administer last rites of penance-absolution and Last Anointing with the Holy Oils, and to give Holy Communion (Viaticum) to a person in danger of death (in periculo mortis) or in the very process of dying (in articulo mortis).

For Padre Martínez, the much more severe ecclesiastical censure of excommunication was still a couple of years away—April 1858. Bishop Lamy in 1860 came to administer the sacrament of Confirmation at the Taos parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  While signing the Books of Parish Records (Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Funerals) as customary upon coming for an official visit, he noted the excommunication of Padre Martinez in the respective sacramental registries of Confirmations and Funerals. The Bishop noted that the excommunication was because of the priest’s “scandalous writings”, not for any alleged immorality or concubinage.

Msgr. Jerome Martínez, Canon Lawyer and former rector of the St. Francis Cathedral-Basilica of Santa Fe, affirms that the excommunication was invalid in the first instance for lack of the canonically required three previous warnings. If that be so, then no formal process for “lifting an excommunication” would be required as may have been necessary for some excommunicated historical figures such as Galileo who was “strongly suspected” of heresy in 1633 or Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake in 1431 . Joan’s conviction was overturned a quarter of a century after she was condemned, and was ultimately canonized in 1920.

No such happy outcome awaits Padre Martínez. Nevertheless upon his death in 1867, his fellow legislators in the Territorial Assembly of New Mexico, inscribed upon his tombstone as part of an epitaph: “La Honra de Su País”. Shortly before Town of Taos on July 16, 2006 installed the more than life-sized bronze memorial of the Padre within the plaza grounds, the State Legislature of New Mexico unanimously ratified and made present that same encomium, “THE HONOR OF HIS HOMELAND”.

FRANCISCO XAVIER ROMERO – A “Hitherto Unknown Santero” of the 17th Century



A “Hitherto Unknown Santero” of the 17th Century

In Memory of my Uncle Tom, my Father José Tobias, and

Fr. Tom Steele, S.J.


Rev. Juan Romero

(Witten January 2008, Revised December 2018)

  While we were enjoying a delightful and fraternal dinner at a restaurant near his Immaculate Conception residence in Albuquerque, Fr. Tom Steele, S.J., eminent scholar of all things New Mexican, made a surprising announcement to me in mid-January 2008. We were at the time collaborating on primary source materials relating to Padre Martinez of Taos, but the announcement had nothing to do with the famed Cura de Taos. With a twinkle in his eye and nascent smile, Fr. Tom said, “I have discovered a hitherto unknown santero”. Father Steele (RIP) is a recognized authority on the history of NM and in its various expressions of culture including santos and santeros who fashion them. I was, of course, curious about who this new santero might be. In New Mexican parlance, santos refer to saints’ images carved in wood (bulto) or painted on a wooden slab (santo) or on another medium perhaps such as ox hide.

I was greatly surprised and intrigued when Father Steele revealed that this new santero was Francisco Xavier Romero whose name I recognized as a distant ancestor! Father Steele discovered him in 1993 while studying paintings made from rock minerals and vegetable dyes on ox hides. In the Jubilee Year 2000, Father Steele–author of several books–wrote an essay on Francisco Xavier with the view of future publication. He gave it to Mr. Tom Chavez, an expert on such paintings and former employee of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. He is also an historian as well as nephew of Fray Angelico Chavez, the famed New Mexico historian, poet, and prolific author.

In his essay, Father Steele made the case that Romero is to be identified with “Franciscan B” as listed in some New Mexican art catalogues. Among a collection of these painted ox hides housed at the New Mexico History Museum within the Place of the Governors. <>. The Segesser Hides are the most famous works within the collection made up of two categories: Segesser I depicts skirmishes between rival Pueblo Indians and Apache Plains Indians between 1693 and 1719. Segesser II depicts a rout of Spanish soldiers and allies in 1720 in the area of present-day Nebraska.

There is a Jesuit connection to this collection that may have triggered the special attention Fr. Steele S.J. paid to the ox-hyde paintings. Fellow Jesuit priest Philip von Segesser von Brunegg of Switzerland obtained painted ox hides in 1732 from the prominent Anza family of Sonora. One of their illustrious members, Juan Bautista De Anza, in 1774 set out to search for an overland route from Tubac, Sonora to Monterrey, the capital of Alta California. His an expedition included 20 soldiers, 11 servants and 3 padres that returned from their successful expedition in 1777. As a reward,  the Spanish Viceroy of New Spain appointed de Anza as the Governor of La (Custodia de) Nuevo Mexico which at the time also included the present-day states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and parts of Wyoming. <> One of De Anza’s signature exploits as Governor of La Nuevo Mexico was his 1779 defense of Taos in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Together with Utes and Apache Indians as allies, Govenor De Anza defeated marauding Comanches under the leadership of Cuerno Verde. He remained as Governor of New Mexico for eight more years, and then returned to his home-base of Sonora. He was put in charge of the Presidio of Tucson in 1788, but died within the year before taking up the new office.

The family name of Padre Felipe von Segesser, S.J. exudes wealth and class now poured out in service to vocation and mission. Padre Felipe followed in the footsteps of fellow Jesuit missionary Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, the great pioneer-evangelizer (as well as geographer, explorer, cartographer and astronomer) who served in Sonora and Arizona for 24 years until his death in 1711. Both priests were from wealthy families of the old Hapsburg region of Trent in the liminal territories of northern Italy, southeast of Switzerland and southwest of Austria. In 1758, Padre Felipe serving in Sonora sent the paintings to his family in Switzerland. The Palace of the Governors in New Mexico borrowed the hides for an exhibition in the mid 20th Century, and purchased them in 1988.

Francisco Xavier Romero, the “hitherto unknown santero”, is presumed to have been one of those who painted on these hides in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He was one of the founders of the village of Santa Cruz that Spanish settlers established north of Santa Fe in 1693, after returning from their thirteen-year exile following the major 1680 uprising of Pueblo Tribes. Santa Cruz is near the junction of two rivers Chama and Rio Grande. The Okay Oingue Pueblo had been located there since the fourteenth century. When Spanish colonizers arrived in 1598, they called the pueblo San Juan Caballero. Adjacent but across the Rio Grande to the east, they established their own colony and named it in honor of San Gabriel.

Francisco Xavier Romero had collected vellum documents and kept his own manuscripts written on sheep skin and handed down to heirs through the eldest son of succeeding generations. From his own father Miguel Romero, my grandfather and namesake Juan B. Romero (Grandpa Jon as we called him) came into possession of the manuscripts, a family heirloom, sewn together in a book. In turn, Grandpa Jon handed them down to my father, José Tobias Romero, the eldest of his siblings.

However, my Uncle Tom, my father’s younger brother by seven years, having earned a Master’s Degree in Spanish literature, had a greater interest in them. Without objection, Uncle Tom took possession of the vellum tome, researched its contents well, and eventually translated the Francisco Xavier Romero documents. The fruit of Uncle Tom’s scholarly labor can be found at the State Archives of New Mexico in Santa Fe. Father Tom Steele, S.J. quotes from Uncle Tom’s work on Francisco Xavier Romero.

Uncle Tom, together with his brother–my father–had been a boyhood sheepherder. After a stint with the Civilian Conservation Corps when he was a young man, Uncle Tom joined the Army Air Corps–predecessor to the U.S. Air Force–and became a turret-ball gunner. He flew twenty-five successful Missions from England over Germany and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. On the G.I. Bill, Uncle Tom earned a Master’s degree in Spanish at NM State University in Las Cruces. With his family, he later moved to California where he taught Spanish on every level until his retirement. His grown children challenged him to finally translate that water-stained sheaf of vellum documents of Francisco Xavier Romero.

At their urgings, Uncle Tom, after his retirement as a professor of Spanish, finally completed the difficult task of translating the FXR documents, a series of letters testifying to his surgical skills and good reputation. However, he was even more strongly motivated for the task by a prior negative injunction by dean of New Mexico historians Fray Angelico Chavez while a guest speaker at the University where Uncle Tom was earning his degree. Tom asked Fray Angelico about Francisco Xavier Romero, and the priest –to hear Uncle Tom tell it– curtly replied, “You best forget about him!”  The response upset and angered Uncle Tom who was aware of the vellum parchments as documents precious to family lore.

Upon seriously studying the documents, Uncle Tom became aware that allegations cast a shadow over the reputation of our ancestor: one of theft of an ox and another of molestation of a young man.  Subsequent trials and exonerations, however, concluded that, in the first case, the animal was said to be “dead and wolf-eaten.” Nevertheless, the ox hides certainly came in handy to the santero who either painted on them or fashioned them into moccasins.  In the second case of alleged molestation, a judge found FXR–in the words of Fr. Steele’s abbreviated version of the events–“Innocent, but don’t do it again.”

Francisco Xavier was quite expert in the use of a SCALPEL, a skill that “cut across” or perhaps through his many endeavors, talents and occupations. That he may have been a scoundrel and perhaps a sinner is more than suggested in the correspondence that nevertheless attests to a good reputation. Francisco Xavier was foremost a surgeon and barber who knew blood-letting/phlebotomy, a therapy used at the time. FXR was also a shoemaker–cutting hides for teguas, i.e., moccasins. He was a sacristan at San Felipe Church, formerly known as San Francisco Xavier Church, at the corner of Romero and Church Streets in Old Town Albuquerque. Finally, FXR was a santero–cutting hides by the vara (about 3” less than a yard) upon which holy pictures or other images might be painted.

Francisco Xavier Romero was certainly well-regarded by the parishioners of San Felipe de Neri church when it was still known as San Xavier Church. He had served as sacristan and as the parishioners’ surgeon and shoemaker. When the governor was about to sentence him for his alleged indiscretions, the people of the parish prevailed upon the governor to pardon the sentence so that FXR could continue to serve there.  Francisco Xavier donated many religious artifacts both to the church of San Felipe and to the church of Santa Cruz de La Cañada located between modern-day Española and the santuario of Cimayó.

Thank heaven Uncle Tom disregarded Fray Angelico’s exhortation to “Best forget about him”. Or perhaps better still, thank God that the exhortation to forget instead provoked the reaction to REMEMBER the ancestor, and vow to attempt his rehabilitation for family honor. God alone is judge as to what extent Francisco Xavier was a scoundrel-sinner or pious man, even an un-canonized saints in heaven.  I’m confident that FXR, the “hitherto unknown santero” had within him–as do we all– some of each of those categories. May the merciful Lord grant us all pardon and peace!



BENJAMIN M. READ (Proto-Chicano Historian) & LARKIN GREGORY Read

Santiago Valdez was the principal author of the Biography of Padre Martinez of Taos, originally written in Spanish in 1877, ten years after the death of the Padre. The Read brothers—Benjamin Maurice and Larkin Gregory—collaborated with Valdez in writing the biography. Younger brother Larkin Gregory copied the manuscript in calligraphy while Benjamin Maurice Read made his contribution by annotating and amplifying it, as well as by furnishing an English translation by 1881.  The original manuscript is part of the William G. Ritch Collection at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and until now has never been published.
Benjamin Maurice Read is the second of three sons born to Benjamin Franklin Read and Ignacia Cano. Benjamin Franklin Read—father of Benjamin M. Read–came to New Mexico with the Army of American occupation in 1846. Three years later, this soldier married Doña Ignacia Cano of Spain, daughter of Don Ignacio Cano Ignacio, first discoverer and one of the grantees of the Ortiz Grant in southern Santa Fe County.  Doña Maria Quiros was mother of the
three Read boys—-Alejandro, Benjamin M., and Larkin G. They all went to St. Michael College in Santa Fe, and all became well known as politicians, teachers, or historians.  Benjamin F. Read Sr. died before 1857, and then Doña Ignacia married Mateo Ortiz, a lawyer. From her second marriage with Sr. Ortiz, another three sons and one daughter were born. Doña María deserves credit for the education of all the children because of her great sacrifices, but Archbishop Juan Bautista Lamy of Santa Fe also deserves credit for extending generous help for the education of the children.
Young Benjamin Maurice entered public life as a schoolteacher at the Christian Brothers Santa Fe College in 1876, the Centennial Year of the nation and just before Santiago Valdez was finishing the biography of the Padre. Benjamin M. became an Attorney at Law as well as a politician, then was selected Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Mexico.  Within eight years, in 1884, Benjamin M. Read–together with his brother Larkin Gregory and their mutual friend and colleague Santiago Valdez—compiled and translated into English The Laws of New Mexico.  This may be seen as one of the fruits of the Law School Padre Martinez founded at his Taos home in the fall of 1846 after the occupation of New Mexico by the United States. “The one who will ride the burro from now  on will no longer be the clergyman, but the attorney,” Padre Martínez said as he informed his seminary students that he was changing the seminary into a law school. Just a couple of years previously, Governor Armijo had officially certified Padre Martínez as a civil lawyer. For many years previously, he had–among peers–  already been recognized as a competent canon (church) lawyer.
Benjamin M. Read was also a competent lawyer and good politician, but his true passion seems to have been recording the history of New Mexico from the perspective of a bicultural native. With a plethora of documents available to him through his brother Larkin’s marriage into the Padre Martinez family, Benjamin in 1910 authored An Historico-Synoptical Sketch of the Mexico-American War published in Spanish as Guerra Mexico-Americana.  His major work was the Illustrated History of New Mexico, a work of 812 pages published in 1912 when NM officially became a state of the Union.  Both of these works were originally made available in limited editions: first Spanish and then English.
Through his bilingual-bicultural upbringing, Benjamin M. Read was prepared for a life of scholarship involving both English and Spanish.  The contradictions in translations of Spanish documents into English bothered him sufficiently enough to impel him to do something about it.  In the Preface to his Illustrated History, Benjamin M. Read speaks in the third person about his frustrations in this regard:

Thus it was that he came through personal observation, and after many and very careful examinations of the several writings on history to notice that remarkable differences and striking contradictions exist among some of the English speaking authors, in their respective narratives of historical events….The author of this work attributes the discrepancies and contradictions of the authors mentioned rather to the fact that they had, perforce, to depend absolutely on the translations which are supposed to have been made from the original works and original documents by translators who, by reason of their never having seen the said originals and also because of their not being Spanish scholars, have not, in almost every instance, rendered into correct English the spirit of the original texts, changing quite often, the substance of the language of the first authors; whence the result has been that no two works of the same history, translated from the Spanish into English, by different translators can be found to agree with one another and much less with the original works.
–Illustrated History, Preface, p. 5.

Benjamin M. Read had a definite perspective on the philosophy of history that was born of frustration at the cultural insensitivity of mainline historians in his day and the past. This impelled him to become a first-rate pioneer, native New Mexican historian who deserves to be much better known! He may certainly be aptly considered a mentor for today’s Chicano/Latino historians of North America.
Although a competent lawyer and good politician,Benjamin M. Read’s  true passion seems to have been recording the history of New Mexico from the perspective of a bicultural native. He deserves to be much better known as a first rate New Mexican historian.


SANTIAGO VALDEZ – Author of 1877 Biography of Padre Martínez

Santiago Valdez, Benjamin M. Read, and his brother Larkin Gregory Read were business partners, friends and colleagues. They were also linked by marriage. Larkin was married to Teodora Martinez, the daughter of Santiago Valdez. If we are to believe that Santiago Valdez was indeed a son of Padre Martinez, as family oral history strongly asserts, then Larkin’s wife Teodora would have been the Padre’s granddaughter.  The brothers Read and Santiago Valdez much later became a team of translators for the Laws of New Mexico: Compiled in 1884.

Santiago Valdez, putative son of Padre Antonio José Martinez of Taos, was the main author of the Padre’s 1877 biography, Biografía del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos, complied a decade after the death of the priest. The original Spanish manuscript–literally hand-written and partially translated into English–is included in the Ritch Collection at the Huntington Library in Sierra Made adjacent to Los Angeles. In 1993, I did a contemporary English version of the work available from the NM State Archives and UNM library. Mr. Peter Blodgett, Huntington Library manuscript curator at the time, encouraged me to have my version published. In the hopes of having a scholarly edition published, I lent my copy of the manuscript to Fr. Thomas Steele, S.J. accomplished author regarding people and things  New Mexican. Together with Vicente Martínez of Taos—a close relative of Valdez– and Mr. Robert Torrez—former NM State Historian and protégé of Fr. Steele—we hoped to publish a scholarly annotated  edition of the biography, perhaps bilingual, together with two other key documents relating to cunabula of the Priest of Taos: his 1840 Autobiography written in Durango, and his 1867 Last Will and Testament.
In his Last Will and Testament, Padre Martínez named Santiago Valdez as executor and heir of his books and papers. In December of 1868, a year and a half after the Padre’s death, Valdez first began writing in Spanish the biography of the Padre.
Benjamin Maurice Read, friend and business partner of Santiago Valdez, did a preliminary translation of the manuscript after Samuel Elliot—related to the earliest efforts of the NM Historical Society—began translating the first twelve pages of the manuscript. On a separate page attached to the Spanish-English manuscript, Larkin Gregory Read– younger brother of Benjamin M. Read noted in his own hand that he had “faithfully copied” the original (Spanish) manuscript in good handwriting, and that his elder brother Benjamin Maurice Read was to further “annotate and amplify” it.  Larkin, having married into the Martínez clan through the Padre’s granddaughter, was a good resource for the work of his brother. Valdez completed the work in mid January1877 near the Padre’s birthday, the tenth anniversary of the Padre’s death, and a year after the nation’s first Centennial,.

[For further information on Santiago Valdez, author of the 1877 Biography of Padre Antonio José Martinez, see the lineage and other documentation of (Last Will and Testament of Padre Martinez) researched and compiled by Vicente M. Martinez at .]


ON PADRE MARTINEZ OF TAOS – Posted 2008, and again 2016

[The summary of the life of Padre Antonio José Martínez of Taos by William Wroth, author of The Talpa Chapel and Images of Penance, was posted on the website of the NM Legislature I have taken the liberty of making a few edits and corrections, e.g. that Padre Martínez was “a Franciscan priest”. He was actually a “secular” or diocesan priest ordained in February 1822 at Durango, Mexico a year after its independence from Spain.

In February 2008, I posted the edited article on my blog The Taos Connection. With some pride I can claim that the Wroth article is based on information from my monograph (First Edition – 1976; Second Edition – 2006) Reluctant Dawn: A History of Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos – Based on 1877 Biography by Santiago Valdez. I re-post this précis on Padre Martínez on the first full day of summer 2016, and dedicate it to deceased collaborators Rev. Tom Steele, S.J. and Vicente M. Martínez.]

New Mexico was part of Spain’s Nuevo Mundo for two-and-a-quarter centuries (1598-1821), and remained the northern frontier of the Republica de México for another quarter century until the American occupation in 1846. After the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, New Mexico became a territory of the United States, and the Pontifical Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith Apostolic in 1851 established the Vicariate of Santa Fe, dependent on the Archdiocese of St. Louis. A few years later, Santa Fe became a diocese in its own right with Bishop Lamy as its appointed leader.

Father Antonio José Martínez (1793-1867) was one of the most important New Mexicans of the nineteenth century, playing a leading role in both religious and political affairs in the Mexican and Territorial periods.

Antonio José Martínez was born the eldest son on January 17, 1793 [the feast of desert father San Antonio Abad] in the Plaza of Santa Rosa, about two miles west of today’s Abiquiú.  At the “public school” connected to the parish church [of Santo Tomás], he learned to read and write at a very young age.  When he was 11, in 1804, the family moved to Taos where he worked on the family ranch and helped to take care of his younger brothers and sisters.

At the age of 19, he married María de la Luz Martín of Abiquiú, [Wroth parenthetically asserts they were not related,but they were were cousins a few degrees removed-JR] but tragically she died a year later in childbirth.  The young widower returned to Taos to live with his parents.  Still in his early twenties, he decided to become a priest, and before turning 24 [María de La Luz died when he was 20; after a couple of years of discernment], he went to the seminary in Durango in northern Mexico.  It was the seat of the far-flung diocese that also included what is today called the American Southwest.  At seminary, he excelled in his studies, especially philosophy and canon law, and received a scholarship given in honor of the King of Spain.

Antonio José Martínez was ordained a priest in February 1822 for the Diocese of Durango that included all of New Mexico [that included at the time  a great swath from what are snippets of all the states today surrounding NM].  This prior year Mexican Independence from Spain had taken place, and that struggle for independence strongly influenced Padre Martinez’ political thinking.  He was supposed to stay for another year in Durango to continue theological studies and receive pastoral experience before returning to NM.  However, suffering from an asthmatic condition, he received permission to return to Taos where he lived with his parents while helping out the Franciscan pastor of the church of San Geronimo at the Pueblo.  Its missions included Padre Martinez’ home parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Plaza.  He fully regained his health to fulfill an active ministry fist in Taos for a couple of years and then for a few years  in parishes at Tomé (south of Albuquerque) and Abiquiú (northwest of Santa Fe, and about sixty miles southwest of Taos).

Spanish New Mexico had since the early colonial period been under the religious administration of the Franciscan friars, but after independence, there was a powerful movement to replace these Franciscans with secular priests.

In 1826, Padre Martinez became the priest in charge of the parish in Taos: San Geronimo of the Pueblo, Our Lady of Guadalupe of the Plaza and other surrounding mission churches.  This was also the year of the arrival of a sixteen-year old Christopher (Kit) Carson into Taos that he made his home, and the year of the death of the Padre’s father, Severino Martinez who had been the Sheriff of Taos.

Soon after his appointment as the priest of Taos, Padre Martínez opened a school that was for young girls as well as boys.  It was the first of several schools he established in the Taos area, including a seminary (1835) and a law school (1846).

In 1831, it appears likely that the first of at least three children were born to Father Martínez and a woman who lived next door to him, Teodora Romero [Cf. Research and writings of Vicente Martinez @ <>…Progeny; Postscript; Part III.]

In 1834, Ramón Abréu brought a printing press from Mexico to Santa Fe.  It was the first press to operate in New Mexico, and the next year Father Martínez purchased it, and moved it to Taos.

Martinez used the press to print schoolbooks—spelling, arithmetic, etc.– as well as religious and political tracts.  He established the first newspaper west of the Mississippi, El Crepúsculo de La Libertad, but only six issues were printed.  He published the first book printed in New Mexico—a bilingual ritual (Latin and Spanish) called A Manual for Pastors.

After the Chimayó War of 1837, Padre Martinez wrote and published on his press his own autobiography—a kind of melancholy mid-life memoir cataloguing his accomplishments.  In that violent Rebellion, centered in the town of Chimayó, Martínez was accused of playing an organizing role.  However, the evidence suggests that he was innocent of any involvement and in fact, was in danger at times from the rebels.  Martínez, as a Mexican liberal of the period, was opposed to President Santa Anna and to his appointed New Mexico governor Albino Perez, who was assassinated by the rebels.

With the change in sovereignty from Mexico to the United States in 1846, Father Martínez was accused of being, on the one hand, too tolerant of the incoming American Protestants and, on the other hand, anti-American and even an organizer of the Taos Rebellion of 1847.  [Cf. “Padre Martínez: the First Mexican American” in Seeds of Struggle, Harvest of Faith – 1998, LTD Press]. Both accusations were not only contradictory but also unfair.

He believed in religious freedom and admired that principle in the American constitution.  He maintained good relationships with most of the Anglo [Americans who had settled in Taos.  General Stephen W. Kearny, after occupying Santa Fe in mid-August 1846, had Padre Martinez come from Taos, and invited him to pledge allegiance to the American Flag.  The Padre, together with is brothers, were among the very first New Mexicans to become citizens of the United States.  Padre Martinez lent the General his printing press, and Kearny used it to print his famous code of laws.

During the Taos Rebellion (in January 1847, during which Governor Bent was assassinated), Padre Martinez provided sanctuary for at least one endangered American, and he confronted the mob of rebels…He also cooperated fully with Colonel Sterling Price who made Martinez’s home his headquarters while he and his troops fought and defeated the rebels.

The soldiers of Col. Price fired cannon balls into the venerable Pueblo Church of San Geronimo—over two and a quarter centuries old—killing over 225 people including women and children who were seeking sanctuary.  The Padre gave some of his property for the burial of the fourteen Americanos and sympathizers who died in the 1847 Taos Uprising.  He buried in the parish church graveyard at least eight of those who were hanged for leading the defense of the Mexican nation in its northern outpost, and another four or so in the burial grounds of the Pueblo.

In 1849, Martínez was appointed president of the convention of nineteen delegates assembled to prepare a territorial plan of government.  In 1850, Padre Martinez presided at New Mexico’s first territorial constitutional convention that ratified New Mexico’s becoming a territory of the United States, free from slavery.


The arrival of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy in1850 brought about a long-lsting conflict between the French clergy under Lamy and the New Mexican-born clergy for whom Martinez often served as the spokesman.

In December 1852, Lamy…declared that parishioners who did not tithe  (pay church fees) would be denied the sacraments…Martínez had some twenty years earlier been successful in having involuntary tithing abolished in Taos due to the poverty of the populace.  On behalf of a number of the clergy, Martínez took issue with Lamy’s position, and this issue remained a major thorn of contention between them for the rest of Martinez’s life.

At the same time, Lamy suspended some New Mexico-born clergy from their priestly duties.  Among them, Father José Manuel Gallegos, pastor of the church in Albuquerque and a former seminary student of Father Martínez.  Lamy’s action produced a powerful backlash; not only did Martínez come to Gallegos’s defense, but over 900 citizens signed a petition in support of him.

[The number of signatures collected, including clergy and politicians, was closer to a thousand. Congressman José Miguel Gallegos of New Mexico, from his office in Washington DC, wrote the cover letter and sent it to Pope Pius IX. Gallegos, born in Abiquiú and educated in Taos by Padre Martinez , was ordained at Durango in 1842, two decades after Padre Martínez.]


[[To be coninued.]]

Posted By Blogger to The Taos Connection at 2/07/2008 11:08:00 PM

Reluctant Dawn: A History of Padre Martínez

At the link below, you are free to download gratis my monograph Reluctant Dawn: A History of Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos–based on the 1877 Biography by Santiago Valdez and other primary documents:

If you wish an autographed hard copy, please tell me to whom it should be dedicated, and address of where it is to be sent.  A donation of $15 is adequate and gratefully received.  Please contact me at this address:

Rev. Juan Romero • c/o P.O. Box 1947 • Palm Springs, CA 92263


1831 Exposición by Padre Martínez

[An English translation of this document is found online on the website of Vicente M. Martínez of Taos who died in late February of this year 2016.  He was a close relative of the Cura de Taos who lived in and owned the Padre’s house in Taos.  In later years, Vicente resided in Florida and more recently in the state of Washington with his son Dr. Antonio José “junior” named for his illustrious ancestor.

Since the early seventies, we were were close collaborators on Padre Martínez lore,  and became good friends.  I still mourn his death, and miss him much.  Check out the Padre’s 1831 Exposición on Vicente’s website:


Commentary by David Weber

Translation by Juan Romero –  Introduction

On the tenth anniversary of Mexican Independence from Spain, Padre Antonio José Martínez of Taos wrote and presented Exposición, a treatise on the Territorial government of New Mexico dated November 11, 1831. In his presentation made to his fellow delegates of New Mexico, Padre Martínez attempted to clarify the meaning of their representative body called La Diputación, the legal body of elected “deputies” or representatives of New Mexico under the government of the Republic of Mexico that lasted from Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821 until the occupation of New Mexico by the United States in 1846. In his treatise, Padre Martínez also advocated  that the limited powers of the Diputación be broadened. After its members received, read, and ratified the Exposición, they sent it for enactment to the representative of the federal government in Mexico City.

David Weber (1940-2110), first-rate scholar of things and people New Mexican, authored a classic Padre Martinez-related work in 1996–On the Edge of the Empire: The Taos Hacienda of Los Martínez. While teaching at San Diego State University in 1975, Weber wrote his commentary on the 1831 Exposición by Padre Martínez for the journal of El Colegio De Mexico, and it was published as El Gobierno Territorial de Nuevo México: La Exposición del Padre Martínez de 1831.

The actual Spanish text for the Padre Martinez document Exposición de 1831 is from the H.H. Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley. It is rerpinted in the second part a fourteen-page article by David J. Weber published in Spanish by El Colegio de México, “El govierno territorial de Nuevo México: La Exposición del Padre Martínez de 1831” in the journal Historia Mexicana Vol. 25, No. 2 (Oct.-Dec., 1975), pp. 302 to 310. The first eight pages are a commentary by Weber, and a facsimile of the original Padre Martínez text follows.

One may read the article for free, or download and purchase it for $19.  Access JSTOR through one’s educational institution OR join <REGISTER & READ beata Program> online for free. An indiidual scholar or researcher may register at the following link: <>. Write in and SELECT “El govierno territorial de Nuevo México: La Exposición del Padre Matnez de 1831”. To read the full text, add the article to your “reading shelf”.

David Weber, familiar with my English version of the Santiago Valdez 1877 Biografía del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos,  encouraged me to publish it–something yet to be done. With this blog item, I present my English adaptation of Weber’s commentary on the Padre’s Exposición, but without accompanying footnotes that may be found in the Spanish online version cited above.  The accompanying blog item is my English translation of the Padre Martínez Exposición de 1831.

My Adaptation in English of David Weber’s Commentary

In October of 1830, the District of Taos elected their parish priest and “home boy” Padre Antonio José Martínez to serve for two years as a member of the Diputación de Nuevo México, the local legislative delegation of seven representatives. The New Mexican territorial legislature of the republic of Mexico was convoked about a month later, and on November 7, 1830, Martínez traveled south sixty miles or so toward Santa Fe where the sessions were about to begin.

After about a year of service in the Diputación, the Cura de Taos became convinced that the most urgent problems of New Mexico would not be resolved unless the Diputación would come to have greater authority. Padre Martínez left some writings about this matter in an essay or treatise entitled Exposición dated November 11, 1831. He addressed it to José Antonio Chavez, Governor of New Mexico who at the time was also President of the Diputación. Martínez held that the Diputación was so weak that it would end up dissolving on its own. He wrote that the Diputación was in practice charged with only three functions: supervising primary schools, granting land, and maintaining relations with the Supreme Congress in Mexico City through the Deputy (representative of the Diputacion) of New Mexico. Martínez held that the Diputación was lacking sufficient power to effectively be in charge of the three areas, and that they would be better managed by various local town governments (ayuntamientos) together with a political chief of a territory, a mayor or an equivalent.

Of greater importance, moreover, Padre Martínez argued that the Diputación lacked the power to resolve the more urgent problems of the territory: juridical inefficiency, necessary church reform, and military defense in the face of depredations of New Mexicans by so-called uncivilized Indians. The priest was also bothered because members of the Diputación did not receive any salary. The seven Deputies had attended the sessions at their own expense, and without attending much to their own business affairs. Martínez insinuated that unless the Diputación became an important body with real power to obtain significant reforms, it would not be worth wasting the necessary time and money to continue its activities.

Padre Martínez gave his presentation (Exposición) before the territorial Diputación on November 11, 1831. The Deputies, the other six elected representatives of New Mexico, voted in favor of his presentation, and decided that the document be sent to the Congress in Mexico City. The next day, the Diputación addressed a letter to Anastacio Bustamonte, Vice President of the national Mexican legislative body, but who wasat the time functioning as its President. The Deputies asked him to present the Exposición of Padre Martínez to the Mexican Congress in the hope that the governing body “would wisely take more energetic steps …to remedy the positively difficult wrongs that…afflict this forsaken land” of New Mexico.

The Diputación sent the presentation (Exposición) of Padre Martínez together with the Padre’s cover letter to Mexico City where  it arrived, but did not result in any political reform for New Mexico. Historians are aware that Martínez wrote a cover letter, but none have ever seen it. However, the Exposición de 1831 has been preserved at the Archivo General de La Nación (Mexico), and U.C. Berkeley has copy of the text in its own archives.

The Exposición de Padre Martínez is worth becoming better known for its early expression of the viewpoint of one of the most important and controversial historical figures of New Mexico. Antonio José Martínez from a well-to-do family was born in Abiquiú, New Mexico in 1793.  He studied at the seminary of Durango where he was ordained a priest in February 1822, a year after Mexico’s independence from Spain. He was one of the few native New Mexicans who was ordained to the diocesan priesthood in a Province in which the majority of clergy belonged to the Franciscan order. A few years after returning to New Mexico after his seminary studies, Martínez in 1826 became the parish priest in charge of Taos and its environs. However, he did not technically become pastor until several years later. Taos was his boyhood home where he had moved with his family in 1804 when he was eleven, and where he remained until his death in 1867.

A man of great energy, and one of the few sophisticated persons of that remote and sparsely populated province, Padre Martínez became a dominant figure of the political, religious, and cultural life of New Mexico. He founded educational institutions on the primary level–a school for girls as well as boys–and a preparatory seminary helping other New Mexicans prepare for the priesthood, and after the American occupation opened a law school. From 1835 until the War of 1847, he operated the only printing press of the territory, and occasionally lent it to officials of the government. As a dedicated nationalist and admirer of Padre Hidalgo, Padre Martínez fought to obtain political and ecclesiastical reform in his own jurisdiction. He also called attention to the growing influence of Anglo Americans, and helped many integrate into the life and culture of New Mexico.

Padre Martínez continued his interest in politics, especially as it might be helpful in improving the lot of his fellow New Mexicans. Although his 1831 essay decried the weakness of the Diputación, Martínez served in subsequent legislatures. The political status of New Mexico, under the Constitution of 1836, changed from a territory of the Republic of Mexico to a “Departmento“–analogous to a state in the Republic. By1837, Padre Martínez was elected to the Junta Departamental, at the time called La Legislatura. He was elected to that same position again in 1845, but the post was now called the Asamblea Departamental. Either within or outside of the Provincial Departmental Assembly, Padre Martínez was involved in many political battles. For example, in 1837, he tried to pacify popular uprisings against the new taxes that arose in Taos and in Chimayó, and that had been imposed by the Departmental system introduced by Governor Albino Perez. He wrote his own autobiography at this time, and the following year of 1838 published it on his printing press as Relación de Los Méritos del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos.

During the last decade of his life, Padre Martínez found himself involved in a complex struggle with native Frenchman Jean Baptiste Lamy who served as the first bishop of New Mexico after it became a political entity under the American flag. The priest’s public opposition to his bishop’s reinstatement of tithing as church policy became the tipping point of the conflict that led to the Padre’s ecclesiastical censures.  Through suspension in 1856, Bishop Lamy deprived Padre Martínez of his license (faculties) to function as a priest. Two years later and nine years before his death, Bishop Lamy officially excommunicated Padre Martínez in 1858. However, in order to serve family members and parishioners loyal to him but inadequately served in the new ecclesiastical regime, the Padre continued to minister from his own private chapel and from other similar chapels in the vicinity.

The Exposición de 1831 offers a window into the insights of Padre Martínez’ political thinking. It sheds important light on the situation of New Mexico and indirectly also upon its whole northern borderlands. In the document, Padre Martínez publicly laments the weakness and limits of the Diputación of New Mexico, and adamantly contrasts those limits with the power of the legislatures of states in the young Mexican republic.

The Diputación was, in a sense, a precursor to the state legislature. The Diputaciones in Spain were established as centers of resistance against Napoleonic invasion of 1808, and they remained formalized by the liberal Spanish courts that authorized their establishment in the New World. In Mexico, the Diputación rapidly evolved to become a vital force within regional politics, promoting the fall of the Iturbe regime, and playing an important role in the tumultuous business affairs conducted with the adoption of the federal constitution of 1824. Under that constitution, the Diputaciones matured to become transformed into relatively autonomous state legislatures whose responsibilities remained expressed in the respective state constitutions. These legislatures generally had more power and greater autonomy than the Diputaciones. They were also much larger bodies whose members generally were supposed to receive a salary during the time they were in session.

Meanwhile the rest of Mexico was experimenting with representative government on the state level, but the situation of the territories was different. New Mexico was one of five territories created in 1824, together with Alta California, Baja California, Colima and Tlaxala.  Under the 1824 Constitution, the Mexican Congress expedited laws for the internal administration of its territories. Nevertheless, the weight of other more urgent matters did not allow the Congress to act. Under the Constitution of 1824,  the territories remained in a kind of political limbo in spite of the protests of functionaries on all levels.  Without approval or guidance from Mexico’s national Congress, the Diputación of New Mexico established in 1822 continued to function without authorization under the Constitution of 1824.

Lacking in any current legislation regarding its responsibilities, the Diputación of NM continued its procedures established by the Spanish Constitution of 1812 (Title VI, Chapter II) and by a Spanish decree of June 23, 1823. Spanish law granted it powers to supervise the collection of taxes and expenditures of funds of its province in order to promote public health and public education, to foster agriculture, industry, and commerce, and to ensure the welfare of the missions, monitor the abuses of the clergy, and finally to take up the census and collect statistics.

These powers were apparently ample, but were limited by other regulations that permitted the Diputación to be nothing much more than a consultative body. Both the Constitution of 1812 and the Decree of June 23, 1823 made it very clear that the Governor exercised ultimate authority. All communication between the Diputación and the central government had to be channeled through the governor in the same way as any other communication with municipal governments. The Governor was the only one who could promulgate laws and decrees in the province. Moreover, it was required that the Diputación consult the central government and wait for its approval in order to be able to act on important questions. Even routine plans to promote agriculture, industry, commerce or the arts—for example—had to be sent to the government for approval.

While continuing to act according to Spanish laws, the Diputación of New Mexico was converted into an anachronism for the young federal republic. The complaints of Padre Martínez were, then, not exaggerated, and other new Hispanos agreed with him. Juan Eestevan Pino, in 1829, referred to the Diputación saying that it functioned “without initiative”, although it was “representative of this territory”. Antonio Barreiro, its elected leader at the time Padre Martinez penned his Exposición, wrote in 1832 that the power of the Diputación “is null and insignificant, because it does not have enough authority to be able to work for itself”. Moreover, Barreiro signaled that under the decree of June 23, 1823, the attributes of the Diputación “were absolutely ideal because it made for some tension  with our system and others since they do not agree with the circumstances of the country.”

In this way, the federalist dream of autonomy and local government that would respond to local conditions was a failure for the territory of New Mexico. In the preamble for the Constitution of 1824, a committee headed by Lorenzo de Zavala had been enlarged in favor of a strong regional government, bringing together questions such as “what relationships of convenience and uniformity can there be between the warm earth of Veracruz and the frigid mountains of New Mexico?” The question was never answered in any satisfactory way. New Mexico, left with an antiquated territorial government with little room for local initiative, was isolated with two separate issues of defense: one against autonomous Indian tribes who are mounted and well armed, and the other against Anglo-Americans who are advancing toward the west.

It is worthwhile to note the fact that the federal system also failed in its intent to provide representative governments in the other two provinces of the distant northern border of Alta California and Texas. Just as in New Mexico, the Diputación of the territory of Alta California continued to function under Spanish laws. One of the proofs for the little importance of the Diputación of Alta California is the fact that over a period of several years, it would not meet for anything. One French observer who visited California in 1827-1828 noticed that its Diputación “only met to applaud any opinion of the civil and military chief”. That judgment was probably not very far from the reality. The attitude of the military governor of Alta California with respect to civil authority was summarized by the acting governor Lieutenant Colonel Nicolas Gutierrez who is known to have said that he “had no need for deputies (elected representatives) “with pen and voice” so as long as he had a sufficient number of deputies “with sword and pistol.”

Texas completely lost its Deputación upon being merged with Coahuila in 1824. In one of the first sessions, on August 28, 1824 in Saltillo, the legislature of Coahuila and Texas abolished the Diputación of Texas. Moreover, the delegate for Texas did not come to express his opinion on this question, and the decision was not well received in San Antonio. Nevertheless, the resistance seemed futile. In the Departamento de Texas, therefore, the only bodies of elected officials that existed between 1824 and 1836 were on the municipal level. In 1832 the city government of San Antonio deplored the failure of the [Mexican] Congress to establish in Texas a government that understood local conditions, and blamed this failure on the “paralyzing” of Texas.

In this way, under the Constitution of 1824, the furthest provinces of the northern frontier–Alta California and Texas, in the same way as New Mexico–were able to count themselves among the weakest links of the federalist system. At the same time, there did not exist other provinces in the nation that were more exposed to the danger of being absorbed or conquered by the United States or by another outside power. As the men of the frontier used to know so well, the political weakness of the provinces used to contribute to its vulnerability.

El Crepúculo de la Libertad, a short-lived newspaper founded by Padre Martínez and published in Santa Fe at the end of 1834, expressed its opinion on the ultimate consequence of the [Mexican] federal abandonment of New Mexican territory and of the rest of the northern borderlands. In one of its editorials, El Crepúculo asked, “What other consequences ought this deplorable abandonment bring to the nation?” The answer: “The loss of New Mexico and its dismemberment from Mexican territory.”  El Crepúsculo, mistakenly, began to predict that the United States would not use force to conquer New Mexico. “No,” it editorialized, ” the [18th] century ended, and cast to the ground this manner of subjugating peoples: the empire of brutal force has been substituted by the strength of the conviction of reason….” If the United States were to conquer New Mexico, it would be with “its industry, its ideas of liberty and independence, and the stars of the capitol of the north would undoubtedly shine brighter in New Mexico insofar as its darkness is thicker because of the deplorable state in which the politics of the Mexican cabinet holds it.” El Crepúsculo could not have been more mistaken about announcing that brutal force had ceased being in vogue. However, its prediction concerning the failure of the (U.S.) federal government in attending to the necessities of the borderland could not have been more on target, and would have to lead to the “dismembering of Mexican territory”.

Opposition to Tithing and Ecclesiastical Censures

As a young priest, Padre Martinez objected to tithing that he perceived as a severe burden on the poor.  Since 1829–only three years after he arrived back in Taos as the priest in charge–he publicly voiced his opinion.  As a civil legislator for the Departamento de Nuevo Mexico in the still new Republic of Mexico, independent from Spain since 1821, Padre Martinez advocated abolishing the system of tithing.  In a union of church and state–for centuries, the norm  in Europe and by extension in early Hispanic America–the government was in charge of collecting tithes as income to pay government expenses as well as church expenses including the salary of clergy.  As early as 1829, without objection from his Bishop José Laureano Zubiría of the Diocese of Durango, Padre Martínez successfully advocated for a change in the policy. Durango Diocese extended to Taos, to the whole northern frontier of the Kingdom of Spain that included all of  New Mexico and beyond.  Tithes were fully abolished by the mid 1830s, but by 1853, Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, the first Bishop of New Mexico after it became part of the United States,revived the policy of tithing.

  Wtit the the American occupation of Santa Fe, New Mexico became a Territory of the United States in 1846.  It new ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the diocese of St. Louis began in July 1851 when the new Vicar Apostolic Bishop Lamy arrived at Santa Fe from Ohio where he had been a missionary priest. Padre Martinez joined the other native New Mexican clergy, Spanish Franciscans and laypeople in welcoming Lamy destined to soon become the first bishop of Santa Fe.  Padre Martinez made overtures to ingratiate himself with the new prelate.  For his part, Bishop Lamy initially sought advice from the Padre known for expertise in canon law, and even borrowed money from Padre Martínez who had come from a relatively wealthy family.

 In his attempt to finance the operation of the still-new diocese, Bishop Lamy promulgated a new policy  about tithing in a Pastoral Letter of the early 1850s .  He imposed the penalty of denying Christian burial to families that did not comply with contributing tithes .

  After serving in his beloved Taos for three decades as a busy parish priest, politician, printer and publisher, Padre Martinez was getting elderly, tired and sickly.  He was thinking of possible retirement, and shared his musings with the Bishop.  As a young man in Durango about to be ordained a priest, Martínez suffered from a breathing condition (asthma?) that impeded his health, but he recovered upon returning to Taos.  As a mature man in later years, he suffered other maladies.  In a letter written at the beginning of January 1856 , Padre Martinez advised Bishop Lamy of his ill health that included  bladder infection and severe rheumatism that made walking difficult.  Martínez requested help, preferably a native New Mexican priest as an assistant, and specifically asked for Don Ramón Medina whom he had trained in his preparatory seminary. Padre Martinez suggested that Padre Medina could ultimately replace him as pastor.  Bishop Lamy chose to interpret the letter as a “resignation,” and  accepted it as such.  The Bishop appointed a new priest to succeed Padre Martínez as pastor of Taos, and the change became effective  within three months by May 1856.

  Bishop Lamy had met Don Dámaso Taladrid, a Basque priest and ex-military chaplain,  during one of his trips to Rome, and invited him to the diocese of Santa Fe, and appointed him to succeed Padre Martínez in Taos. Father Taladrid had little regard for the health situation of Padre Martinez or for his thirty years at the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Furthermore, Father Taladrid made it difficult for Padre Martinez to celebrate Mass at the parish, and even refused him permission to preside at the wedding of a favorite niece that was about to take place.  The two priests clashed.

  Father Taladrid newly in charge of Guadalupe Parish in Taos was being disrespectful to Padre Martínez as pastor emeritus. Taladrid made derogatory comments against Martínez, and made it difficult for Martínez to say Mass in the parish church.   To avoid these difficulties Padre Martínez since the summer of 1856 had been building a private oratory with its walled cemetery on his property and at his own expense.  By the fall,in a letter to Bishop Lamy –dated October 1 — PadreMartínez complained about Father Taladrid’s untoward behavior.  At the same time,Martínez formally informed the Bishop of his new private chapel.  However since June, Father Taladrid had already  reported to Bishop Lamy that Martínez was building a private oratory on his own property.

  During this time, the public controversy over Bishop Lamy’s Pastoral Letter that mandated tithes was heating up.  When Bishop Lamy re-introduced the policy of tithing in order to meet new expenses, he imposed exclusion from the rites of Christian burial for the deceased of those families who could not comply.  Padre Martínez, through his public writings in the newspaper La Gaceta of Santa Fe,  strenuously and publicly objected to this change in policy.   

  For his “scandalous writings,” Bishop Lamy suspended Padre Martinez in October 1856.  Suspensio a divinis is the ecclesiastical censure by which a cleric, for a breach of discipline or for moral turupitude, is prohibited from exercising “the divine things” of priestly ministry.  The bishop deprived the suspended priest from his faculties (license) to celebrate Mass, preach, or hear Confessions with Absolution except in danger of death.  In such cases, through the mercy of God, “ecclesia supplet,” the church supplies faculties and jurisdiction for a suspended or excommunicated priest to administer to a dying person the last rites of penance-absolution and anointing with the Holy Oils, and to give Holy Communion, called Viaticum when a Catholic is in either danger of death or already at the point of death . 

  The ultimate ecclesiastical censure of excommunication took place two years later shortly after Easter in the spring 1858.  It is worth noting that church censures imposed on Padre Martinez were not  for moral failings, but specifically for his “scandalous writings” as noted in church records of the Taos parish.  It remains my hope that such penalties be posthumously overturned as was done for Galileo, Joan of Arc, and John Hus.

Pope Francis on Ecology – A Reflection/Commentary


The 245 paragraphs within six chapters across 181 pages of the new encyclical of Pope Francis on ecology will likely be one of the most widely read documents after the bible. Hyperbole? I don’t think so, given the worldwide interest in the topic and contemporary media channels. On the Care of Our Common Home ends with a suggestion of two prayers. The first is “A prayer for our earth” echoes themes of St. Francis’ Canticle of Creatures that serves as the title in Italian of the encyclical, Laudato Si, mi’ Signore. The second prayer is for believing Christians.

The style of the letter is eminently readable, unlike the usual genre of papal statements, and is meant for all inhabitants of the earth—not just Catholics or religious folk. Pope Francis intends his message to be joyful, but admits it is also troubling. Even though Francis exhorts, “Let us sing as we go,” he is not a Pollyanna. The encyclical addresses concrete problems about the care of the earth, and it also makes some difficult points.  Read it for yourself.

In spite of all the challenges and difficulties related to ecology, Pope Francis does not leave us frustrated. In the final paragraph of his message, he concludes with hope:

…the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!

Although released just before the beginning of summer, the work is dated on the feast of Pentecost—May 24, 2015. May the illuminating breath of Yahweh inspire all human beings to receive it well and put it into practice for the world’s health and wellbeing.  I found it intellectually stimulating, scientifically grounded, mystical, poetic, and spiritual. That’s quite a banquet! Above all, it is fraternal–simply signed “Francis”.




RELUCTANT DAWN-A Biography of Padre Martínez Second Editon

An Adobe PDF copy of my monograph RELUCTANT DAWN, A History of Padre Martinez, Cura de Taos may be downloaded for free at the link:

I willingly accept a freewill offering in any amount that may be sent to me in care of the following address:

Rev. Juan Romero – PO Box 1947 – Palm Springs, CA 92263

If you wish an autographed hard copy, I request a donation of at least $15 that would also cover postage.

Let me know by email <>  to whom the book should be dedicated, and where it is to be sent.

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ASIN/ISBN 1424308100

GOOGLE will give you a peek (sample):,+Romero&hl=en&sa=X&ei=f3iLUobYMsakyAGs1YGQCA&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Reluctant%20Dawn%2C%20Romero&f=false

The work ha stood the test of time.  MACC (Mexican American Cultural Center – now called MA College) first published it in 1975.  The Taos Connection published a second edition in 2006 on the occasion of the unveiling of the larger than life-sized Padre Martinez bronze Memorial in the Taos Plaza (LA HONRA DE SU PAIS/The Honor of His Homeland).