(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 morada[1]of Abiquiú; about fifty miles northwest of Santa Fe, and then threw its santos[2] 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,[3] 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[4] 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[5] 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.[6]

  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[7] 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,[8] 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,”[9] 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.”[10]  “…all discipline seems a cause for grief…but later it brings forth the fruit of peace and justice…be…healed.”[11]  “In your fight against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.”[12]

  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,[13] 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[14] of the cofradías.

 Activities of the Penitentes

  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[15] 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.[16]  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…”[17] (Emphasis mine)

 La Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno

  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.”[18] Jesus told Philip the Apostle, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”[19]

  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.”[20] 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.”[21]  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.[22]

  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.[23] 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.[24]   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”[25] 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,”[26] 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.”[27] 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.

 Padre Martínez and the Penitentes

  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”[28] 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,[29] 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.[30] 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.[31]

  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.[32]   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.[33]

  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.[34]

  Before he left Durango for his visitation to New Mexico, Bishop Zubiría[35] 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.[36]

  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.”[37]

  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.”[38] 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.[39] 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;[40] 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.”[41] 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,[42] founder of the Santuario of Chimayó, was the “kingpin of nearly all the Brotherhood activity until 1855, “from Conejos area to Cochití for sure,”[43] Padre Martinez was the one mainly responsible for molding the organization into its modern form.[44]  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.[45]

  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.”[46]

 The Duran Chapel: Another Penitente Base in Taos

  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.[47]

  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  [48]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.”[49]  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”[50] 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[51] 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[52] 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.[53]

 Rules for Penitentes

  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.[54]  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.”[55]   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.”[56]  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.[57]

  Twelve years after the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy–exhorting the Penitentes not to allow themselves to follow “a false species of devotion,”[58] a formula later echoed by Protestant critics,[59] 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.[60] 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.[61] Salpointe would later become the Bishop of Arizona,


  Father Taladrid under a cloud,[62] 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.[63] 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.”[64]

 Protestant Inroads

  Manifest Destiny provided a providential opportunity for Protestants to evangelize the “perverted”[65] 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.[66] 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.[67] 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.[68]

  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.[69]

 Death and Aftermath

  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.[70] 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.[71]

  Reyes N. Martínez of Arroyo Hondo[72] 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”[73]—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.”[74]  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.[75]
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.[76]

“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.


[1] Cf. Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 70. A morada is a special gathering place of the Hermanos Penitentes of New Mexico

[2] 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.

[3] Literally translates to Our Father Jesus the Nazarene, a folk brotherhood in northern New Mexico with great devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ.

[4] The Penitentes are a lay religious franternal organization, a “brotherhood” or cofradía.

[5] 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.

[6] A brotherhood or fraternal organization with charitable or religious purposes whose membership meet from time to time to carry out their purposes.

[7] 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.

[8] 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.

[9] Mt. 16: 24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9: 23; Lk. 14, 26; Lk. 18:29-34

[10] Heb. 12:6

[11] Heb. 12:10-13

[12] Heb. 12:5

[13] My uncle Tomás Romero researched the patriarchal family tree by from documents handed down in the family.

[14] 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.

[15] 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.

[16] Hymns of praise whose tone modality was often doleful, frequently sung at the Rosary vigil the evening before funerals.

[17] Weigle, p. 214.  Appendix XII – Archbishop Salpointe’s Circular on the Penitentes, English Version – February 7, 1892.

 [18] Jn. 10:30

[19] Jn. 14: 8

[20] Jn. 14:28

[21] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p. 681, Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C., c. 1967.

 [22] Steele, S.J., Rev. Thomas, “Late Medieval Spirituality” in Alabados of NM, pp. 81-17, especially pp. 81-10.  The other six besides St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) were the following: saints Romuald (d. 1027), Bernard (d. 1153), Dominic (1221), and Bridget of Sweden (d. 1153).  Numbered among the top three “for New Mexican purposes,” besides St. Francis, were Peter Damian (d. 1072) and Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109).

[23] Durwell, F.X., C.Ss.R., The Resurrection: A Bilbical Study, NY, Sheed and Ward, 1960, pp. 359.

 [24] Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J. is the quntesenntial proponent of liberation theology with a renewed emphasis on the passion of Christ.  His books include the following: Christology the Crossroads (1978), The True Church and the Poor (1984), Jesus the Liberator (1991), Christ the Liberator (1999), Spirituality of Liberation (1990), The Principle of Mercy: Taking the Crucified People from the Cross (Orbis, 1994), No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays (Orbis, 2008).  Born of a Basque family in Barelona, Sobrino became a Jesuit and seved in Guatemala for several years.  Like the assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, the Jesuit order teaching at their Catholic University in El Salvador were outspoken in their efforts to bring resolution to the civil war.  On November 19, 1989, Army agents brutally murdered six of Sobirno’s fellow Jesuits stationed there, as well as their housekeeper and her daughter.  However, Father Sobrino escaped beause he was out of the country at the time. In March of 2007, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a monitum, a “notification” or warning against certain “dangerous or erroneous” porpositons held by Father Sobrino.

 [25] Luke 24:26

[26] Is. 53:5

[27] Is. 11:11

[28] Weigle, op. cit. p. 23

 [29] The Cathedral Chapter is responsible for any important decisions that must be made before the selection of a succeeding bishop.

 [30] Donaciano Vigil succeeded Charles Bent as Governor of New Mexico after his assassination.  Vigil most prominently severed as the second Governor of New Mexico under military rule.  In February 1847, he convoked a Territorial Convention that met on October 14, and it selected Padre Martinez as the President of this Convention for the establishment of a government “purely civil in character.”  Cf. Benjamin Read, Illustrated History of New Mexico, Santa Fe, 1912, pp. 453-54; pp. 439, 456, 461, 539, and 608. 

 [31] Weigle, op. cit., pp. 45-46 and p. 200, Appendix V – Acts of Vicar Rascón.  My translation follows: “There is no objection in this ecclesiastical government that those present make a request to the Superior of the Order of St.  Francis or his sub-delegates who may be in this Territory or Republic to make shorter the practice of those religious acts of devotion in the parish of Taos where those called Tertiary are living.”

 [32] “The Third Order of Penitence of Our Holy Father St. Francis has existed, although the exact year for is not fixed, since just about the [time of the] re-conquest of the Province [in 1693].” Weigle, op. cit., p. 197, Appendix III, Report of Rev. Custos Fray Cayetano José Bernal to Governor Fernando Chacón, October 1794.

 [33] Letter from Padre Martínez to Bishop Zubiría, February 21, 1833. Mary Taylor, an amateur and competente historian, El Paso residident whose husband Paul served in the NM House of Representatives, unearthed the significant letter in the Archives of the Cathedral of Durango, Mexico.  She copied and sent it to William Wroth who quoted it in his Images of Penance, Images of Mercy: Southwestern Santos in the Late Nineteenth Century, Taylor Museum, published for Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center by University of Oklahoma Press, c. 1991.  Translation of Spanish text of the letter is mine, Appendix 1, p.172.

 [34] Ibid.

 [35] Note by Fr. Steele, proofreading a draft for this essay, inserted at this point a comment distinguishing the politics of Bishop Zubiría from that of his predecessor Bishop Casañiza: “After the American and French Revolutions, the Spanish Crown went totally paranoid, demanding that responsible clerics—ideally gachupines [born in Spain]—oversee all cofradías.  Ironically, that led to a desire for liberty…called “Grito de Dolores”…. Castañiza [Former Bishop of Durango] was a rabid Tory, while [his successor] Zubiría was a moderate, but he was a Neo-Classic type—didn’t like anything medieval/Gothic, etc.  Romanticism hadn’t come to Durango, much less to Taos.”

 [36] Wroth, op. cit., Appendix II, p.173, from the Archives of the Cathedral of Durango – Microfilm roll 16, frame 689.

 [37] Bishop Zubiría’s Pastoral Letter of July 21, 1833 to priest and people of Santa Cruz de La Cañada quoted in Weigle, Appendix I – pp. 195-96.  The letter was also intended for clergy and laymen wherever Penitentes were found. Spanish transcribed by Marta Weigle from the Microfilm Edition of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM State Records Center and Archives, Roll 50, Frames 0147-0149.  Books of Patents, No. 73, Box 7, described by Chávez, Archives of the Archdiocese, p. 156.  English translation mine.

 [38] Cf.
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.

 [39] Bishop Zubiría, October 19, 1833, quoted in Weigle, p. 196.

[40] 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.

 [41] Santiago Valdez, Biography of Padre Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos, 1877, Ritch Collection, Huntington

Library, San Marino; unpublished manuscript, English version by Juan Romero, prepared 1993, p. 45.

 [42] Bernardo Abeyta’s son attended the minor seminary of Padre Martinez in Taos, and was ordained a priest.

[43] Notation of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J. on essay.

[44] 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.”

[45] 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.”

 [46] Albert López Pulido, Sacred World of the Penitentes, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 2000, p. 92, n.30 summarizes the argument Wroth makes in Images of Penance, pp 51-52.

 [47] William Wroth, The Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa, The Tayor Museum of Fine Arts, Colorado Springs, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80903, 1979, p. 24.

[48] 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.

   The Talpa chapel was the one Padre Martinez used mostly after his estrangement from Bishop Lamy in 1858.  A U.S. census taker in 1860 referred to it as a “schismatic church,” but Fray Angelico Chavez roundly repudiated that term as appropriately describing the reality.  Cf. Fray Angelico Chavez, But Time and Chance, Sunstone Press, 1984, pp. 146-147.

   Since the mid 1960s, this chapel has existed only in the rubble and miniscule ruins of its foundation, hidden from view, located on private land near the highway. The adobe of the once stately chapel returned to the elements for lack of care.  However, the chapel is the subject of one of the scholarly and informative publications of the Taylor Museum in Colorado Springs.  A replica of its interior used to be prominently displayed there. May it someday be rebuilt as a house of prayer dedicated to the reconciliation of people who live in conflict.

 [49] Wroth, Ibid.

 [50] Weigle, op. cit., Appendix VII: Bishop Lamy’s Five Rules for the Penitente, March 9, 1857, p. 205.

 [51] Father Steele noted on the draft of this manuscript, “Tithes and Frist Fruits—diezmos y primicias—are NOT the same as aranceles.”  Bishop Lamy effectively cut the income of the native clergy by lowering the stole fees (aranceles) for baptisms, marriages, and burials.  Father Steele suggests the “cuts were 66% to 75%…!”  Bishop Lamy reinstated tithes and first fruits under the pain of an ecclesiastical censure that may have included exclusion from Christian burial.

 [52] Letter of Padre Martinez to Bishop Lamy, Nov. 12, 1856. Fr. Philip Cassidy, native priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, translated the letter in a manuscript her wrote in the late 1960s.  Quoted in Juan Romero, Reluctant Dawn, Second Edition, 2006, The Taos Connection – Palm Springs, CA, p. 48.

 [53] AASF (Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe), L.D.  1856, No.  24.

 [54] AASF, L.D. 1856, No. 33.

[55] Bishop Lamy may have wanted to ingratiate himself with the natural powerbase of Padre Martínez, the Hermanos Penitentes. 

 [57] Father Steele notes, “I am sure that… Lamy was infinitely better than Zubiría or Salpointe for the Hermanos Penitentes.”

[58] Weigle, op. cit., pp. 206-207. Bishop Lamy’s Lenten Pastor
al of 1879.

 [59]  “These serious seekers, by a false road for salvation [my emphasis: title of an article by Juan F. Martinez] have not been forgotten of God, ever on the watch for the sincere…” Alexander Darley, quoted in Juan Francisco Martinez of Fuller Seminary for CEHILA Discussion Paper-Draft, n.d., p. 10.

 [60] Weigle, pp. 207-208, Archbishop Salpointe’s 1886 Circular on the Third Order of St. Francis.

 [61] Ibid. p. 214-16. The quotes are from the Circular Letter of Ab. Salpointe, February 7, 1892, to be read in all the churches.  Their set of rules is described as nothing but “a bombastic appeal to all males from the age of fourteen up to join with them…. They condemn themselves, by professing the principles of Masonry…They ask [for an] oath of perpetual obligation…The Church … does not want to… approve the disorderly, indecorous and indecent practices of the Fraternity…Protectors of the Penitentes, are doing so more for political reasons… To those who have…resisted our orders, we consider them as rebels…[and] will be deprived of the reception of the Sacraments….They go out by persisting in their disobedience.”

 [62] Father Damasio Taladrid was a serious drinker, had a difficult temperament, and did not get along with parishioners who retained their love for Padre Martinez.  The mutual animosity between the priests Taladrid and Martinez lessened, and they were able to get along.  Padre Marteinez kept asking for a native New Mexican as an assistant priest, and requested Padre Ramón Medina.  However, Bishop Lamy eventjually did send a native New Mexican priest: Father Eulogio Ortiz, former student of the Padre and nephew of Vicar Juan Felipe Ortiz of Santa Fe.  In addition, Father Ortiz enjoyed the confidence of the Bishop, having accompanied him to Rome on a visit, and later becoming his priest-secretary as well as preist-in-charge of Guadalupe parish.

[63] 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.

 [64] Ibid. p. 37

 [65] Cf. Juan Francisco Martínez, Ph. D., “Origins and Development of Protestantism among Latinos in the Southwestern United States: 1836-1900” (Fuller Theological Seminary, 1996).  Note on manuscript by T. Steele, S.J.—Protestant missionaries whom Juan Martínez cites as especially noteworthy for their zeal and effectiveness include the following: Thomas Harwood (Methodist, good in every way), Charles Sumner (Congregationalist), and Alexander Darley (Presbyterian, “a rather wild person not even mentioned in his minister-brother’s autobiography.”)

 [66] I sent Father Steele a draft of this essay for his comments.  This was one of the notations on the returned manuscript.

 [67] Darley called Penitentes “serious seekers, by a false road, for salvation, have not been forgotten of God, ever on the watch for the sincere, even though ignorant and, therefore, false seeker for light…” Passionists, pp. 58-59, quoted in Juan Martínez.

 [68] Juan Francisco Martinez, quoting Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA (1877- 1900).

[69] Cf. Randi Jones Walker, Protestantism in the Sangre de Cristos: 1840s-1900s.

[70] AASF, L.D. 1858, No. 17, Troy, n.d. Ch. IV: 2-3 quoted in Ibid. p. 37.

 [71] E.K. Francis quoted in Romero, Reluctant Dawn, second ed., p. 54

[72] 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.

[73] In ictu oculi – In the wink of an eye, i.e. quickly, unexpectedly.

[74] Tempus fugit, memento mori. = Time flies, remember death.

[75] Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 170.

[76] Weigle, op. cit., p. 49.






 A Presentation for the New Mexico Historical Society

On the Occasion of the 300th Anniversary of the

Founding of Albuquerque

 April 22, 2006


 Rev. Juan Romero

 Happy birthday Albuquerque!  In the early1940s, at the dawn of my consciousness, our family lived here for a while.  We came from Taos to this city’s lower elevation for mom’s health, but then we moved to Los Angeles in 1943 for dad’s job with Lockheed Aircraft.  From family members and from a large glass-encased poster at the edge of the Taos Plaza, I first learned about Padre Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos.  In mid July of this year, ten days before the anniversary of his death in 1867, Padre Martinez will be commemorated with a life-sized bronze likeness to be placed in the center    of the Taos Plaza.  It will reprise what his peers in the New Mexico Territorial Legislature wrote on his tombstone: “La Honra de Su Paíz-The Honor of His Homeland.”[1] 

Tradition preserved in the personal papers of his youngest brother Pascual Martinez[2] claims that Padre Martinez died repeating the Our Father.  The operative words in this context would be “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and the mutuality of forgiveness prayed for would be Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy. 

The 1877 Valdez biography[3] records the early life of Padre Martinez with several letters and documents, but says very little about his life after the arrival of Bishop Lamy.  The Pascual Martinez papers record that Padre José Lucero, his former student, good friend and pastor of the neighboring Arroyo Hondo parish attended Martinez upon his deathbed.  It is the common teaching of theologians that a person with good dispositions of love of God and sorrow for sin, and who receives the Church’s Last Rites–consisting of the sacraments of Penance, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion– upon death, goes directly to heavenly glory.  A month before he died, Padre Martinez revised his Last Will and Testament[4] that gives us an insight into his dispositions.

I declare that during the forty-two years
of my spiritual administration in several parts of this Territory of New Mexico, and particularly in this County of Taos, I have complied with my ecclesiastical ministry with fidelity and good faith to the best of my knowledge that I could….My body shall descend tranquil to the silent grave, and my soul shall appear and go up to the Divine Tribunal with plain satisfaction that I have done all that I could to illuminate the minds of my fellow citizens causing them their temporal good, and above all, their spiritual benefit….My conscience is quiet and happy, and God knows this to be true.  If anyone of my fellow citizens and neighbors complains that I have injured them, it may have been through a mental error, but not with the intention of my heart, as human creatures are weak…  Nevertheless, I have never had any intention of injuring anyone, and by nature, I have been inclined to do good, so help me God. 

Bishop Zubiría of Durango attested to the high moral character of Padre Martinez. He visited Taos three times in his tenure of the far-flung diocese of Durango that included New Mexico as it was then constituted: Colorado, Arizona, Utah and parts of Texas and Wyoming.  When the bishop visited in 1833, he acceded to Padre Martinez request to begin a pre-seminary to prepare young men for further study in Durango.  Padre Martinez had begun an elementary school in 1826, and his seminary would morph into a law school after the American occupation in 1846. 

In 1840, Padre Martinez had spent a year on sabbatical in Durango, the see of the Archdiocese at the time (and for eleven more years to come).  He caught up with course work since, because of illness, he had left seminary after ordination in 1822 but before he finished some theology courses.  This became an impediment for promotion to a “permanent” pastorate, although since 1826 he had been “interim” pastor of the Taos Church (San Geronimo at the Pueblo and its main chapel Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe at the Plaza). After his year, he was formally appointed CURA DE TAOS, the title for which he has been known in history.

When the Bishop Zubiría visited again, for the third time, in 1845, he ratified Martinez’ appointment as an permanent pastor.[5]   “He not only approved the records of Padre Martinez, but even thanked him for his skill and energy in performing his duties as minister.  As a matter of recognition, he granted Padre Martinez additional privileges for his well deserved merits.”[6]  Appointing him as “Vicar and Ecclesiastical  Judge” of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish “and its districts”[7] of the northern region, Bishop Zubiría  also gave Padre Martinez the “special faculty and power to absolve…heretics and also to rehabilitate or to suspend, as he may deem proper and according to his conscience, any priest who may deserve to be rehabilitated or suspended.”[8] These special faculties were valid for a period of five years ending September 18, 1850.[9] 

Although he had more than his share of political enemies, Charles Bent chief among them because of disagreements about land use and ownership, Padre Martinez was nevertheless  held in very high regard by the majority of the people of Taos and all of New Mexico.  By contrast, Willa Cather, in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel[10]–“the best novel ever about New Mexico”[11]—spoke for many of the Padre’s enemies[12] when she described the Padre as an ogre writhing in hell.  She may have been inspired to imagine Martinez there because of the inimical relation between Padre Martinez and the hero of the novel, a fictional and glorified version of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.  

In the fall of 1856, almost a decade before Martinez died, Lamy censured the Padre with Suspension whose vality Padre Martínez—ever the Canonist—legally challenged.  The following year, in the spring of 185, Bishop Lamy excommunicated Padre Martínez “with all of the required formalities…servatis servandi.”[13]  Here is how one author described the dramatic scene of the excommunication:

Machebeuf appeared in the Taos church [of
Our Lady of Guadalupe] to celebrate High Mass and to pronounce the excommunication.  Tension was almost tangible.  The church was filled, and the people stood outside to hear the ceremony and to watch each other, and to see
who had guns.  When time came for the
sermon, Mauchebuf explained the meaning of excommunication of which most people had no understanding except that it was the Church’s ultimate discipline; and then he read the instrument itself to a hushed congregation and finished the Mass…There was no disturbance, though everyone felt the precarious atmosphere…[14]

The “instrument” of excommunication, part of “all the required formalities,” was likely from the Roman Pontifical containing ceremonies used by a Bishop in the nineteenth century:

Since I, [Name of Bishop], having legitimately warned [him] for the first, second, third and fourth times of the malice for which he is being convicted for whatever he has done or not done,  and since he has shown contempt for fulfilling my command to renounce his contumacy,[15]  and since he is remaining stubborn [exigente] in his rebelliousness, I therefore excommunicate him with these written words:  By the authority of the omnipotent God Father, and the Son and Holy Spirit, and by the authority of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, I denounce him.  He is to be avoided [vitandus] for as long a time as it may take until he will have fulfilled what is mandated, in order that his spirit may be saved on the day of judgment.[16]

Joseph P. Mauchebeuf, Vicar General for Bishop Lamy and later first bishop of Denver, is the one who pronounced the excommunication, according to Howlett, author of Mauchebeuf’s biography. A couple of years later on July 1, 1860, Bishop Lamy himself came to Our Lady of Guadalupe parish to administer the sacrament of Confirmation to over 500
adults and children of the Jurisdiction of Taos.   He put this note in the book of Baptism records of the parish:

Since our last visit [to the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe] in August of 1855 until the present date, various pastors have succeeded in this Jurisdiction whom we had to move for grave and critical circumstances….It is our painful obligation to observe here that at the beginning of the year 1857, we had to punish with suspension Sñr. Cura Martinez for his grave and scandalous faults and for his publications against order and the discipline of the church. Regretfully, however, he did not pay attention to the censures, and before long, he began to say Mass, administer the sacraments, and to publish things even more scandalous.  We then saw ourselves obliged to excommunicate him, servatis servandis, with all of the required formalities.  Since that time, this unfaithful [infeliz] priest has done all in his power, and in a most diabolical manner, to provoke a schism in public as well as in private, pretending to say Mass, administer the sacraments, and thus
loosing a great number of souls. However,  in spite of this schism, the major part of the faithful remain on the side of order and of legitimate authority, as this book of entries proves…Thus it is that while some lose faith, because they have forsaken good works, others are strengthened in
procuring the good of souls and the glory of God.[17] 

Only God is judge of ultimate destiny. However, the passage of time and critical history helps to evaluate a person’s rightful place in the earthly hall of merits and accomplishments. Antonio José Martinez was a liminal man of both the church and of the nation.  His life was at the threshold of three distinct eras that spanned the history of New Mexico, under Spain (two and a quarter centuries), under Mexico (twenty-five years), and under the United States since 1846.  As an actor and positive contributor to each distinct epoch, he was on the threshold of each, and helped his people of New Mexico segue one to another, sometimes with pain and/or struggle.  He was a churchman, rancher, educator, journalist, printer, publisher, lawyer and politician who lived in a time of great transition.  He was a man of the people, and one of the great figures of New Mexican history.  Although there were shadows in his life, the light emanating from him far outshone any darkness.  Indeed, he was a luminary of this time, a renaissance man only now coming to be better and more widely appreciated. 

His ecclesiastical superiors held Antonio José Martinez in very high regard as a seminarian in Durango.  He excelled in his studies, especially in philosophy and canon law. Bishop Castañiza who ordained Martinez favored him, and even considered appointing him as a first assignment to La Parroquia, the principal parish in Santa Fe, precursor to the Cathedral.  Bishop Zubiría who succeeded Bishop Castañiza also recognized the talents of the priest of Taos and showed his appreciation of him on all three of his visits to Taos: in 1833, in 1845, and in 1850 on the eve of the great transition. 

On his third and last visit in 1850, barely a year before Bishop Lamy arrived in Santa Fe, Bishop Zubiría gave Padre Martinez special faculties that again showed his complete confidence in the Priest of Taos.  Among the faculties, ironically, was to absolve penitents from suspension and excommunication.

The mid 1840s encompassed the “transcendent epoch” that brought tumultuous changes to New Mexico.  The engine was Manifest Destiny, the U.S.-MEXICAN WAR was the powerful train that came into New Mexico in 1846.  Its caboose was the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and its railroad tracks continue to lead forward defining and shaping our own place and time.  Territories that had belonged to Spain since 1598, and then to Mexico since1821, now became territories of the United States of America. The political change affected church organizational structure.  By 1850, New Mexico was taken from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Durango in Mexico and became an Apostolic Prefecture under the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri in the United States until Santa Fe became its own Diocese and later Archdiocese.

The historic tension between France and Spain was a backdrop for the cultural clash that was to distance the new Vicar Apostolic Jean Baptiste Lamy from New Mexico’s native clergy that Padre Martinez helped so much to develop. The 1850 Council of Baltimore decided to bring the new US territory under American ecclesiastical sway.  They nominated French missionary J. B.  Lamy as first Vicar Apostolic of Santa Fe who was a French-born missionary serving as a parish priest in the diocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Arriving in New Mexico in July of 1851, he was destined to become the bishop of the new Santa Fe diocese.  His territory of New Mexico included what is now the state of New Mexico in addition to all of Arizona and Colorado and parts of Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. 

The initial encounters between Bishop Lamy and Padre Martinez were cordial, even warm and gracious.  Lamy seemed to genuinely appreciate the canonical acumen of Padre Martinez.  However, the pride and stubbornness of each soon began to show.  The conflict between them was, at its core, a conflict of culture more than of theology or morality.  The tension was expressed around issues concerning transition of power and authority.

One of the principal points of conflict between Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy was Lamy’s reinstitution of the practice of tithing.  In the European model of Church-State union, the government was responsible for maintaining the churches and paying salary to the clergy.  As early as 1829, eight years into the Mexican period, Padre Martinez already was objecting to the practice.  He stated it was a burden too heavy for poor people, and advocated for a change in policy.  By 1833, he was a member of the New Mexican legislature and—with the approbation of Bishop Zubiría—successfully advocated  for a change in the law that ultimately eliminated government-sponsored tithing.  Martinez promoted free will offerings in church.  

Bishop Lamy’s Pastoral Letter that initiated the renewed policy on tithing was written in December 1852, but it was not printed nor promulgated until early 1853.  When Bishop Lamy re-instituted tithing under pain of denial of Christian burial, [18] it seemed excessively harsh to Padre Martinez who publicly denounced it in the press, the Santa Fe Gaceta,  as “hucksterism” and “simony.”[19] The Pastoral ran counter to serious objections by several of the local clergy, and did not begin to be fully implemented until 1854.  The text of the Pastoral was a brief document of three pages with seven points dealing with routine liturgical and catechetical concerns.  The fifth and sixth seriously offending points tried to launch a fund raising campaign redounding to the economic hardship of clergy and faithful. Those faithful who did not comply were deprived from church burial.[20] In addition, the renewed  system of tithing reduced the income of the priests by about a third. 

Bishop Lamy in 1856 suspended Padre Martinez from celebrating Mass, preaching,  and hearing Confessions because of his public scandalous writings that attacked him in the public press. The Padre responded with a legalistic letter outlining why the suspension was invalid, because it lacked three canonical warnings.[21]  Padre Martinez was convinced of the invalidity of the suspension from his study of Canon Law,  in which he was a recognized expert, and from the church law books available to him.  However, Bishop Lamy, admittedly not all well versed in Canon Law,  may have been operating out of an understanding of church law based on different text.  There was a canon that permitted the legitimate suspension of a priest “on the basis of an informed awareness”  Jesuit canonist Ladislas Orsay brought this [ex consciencia informata] to the attention of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J. as a possible way Bishop Lamy wanted to deal with Padre Martinez in order to avoid even greater public scandal since the Padre was so widely respected by the people, it is supposed.  This was intended to give a bishop maximum latitude in censuring a priest whose circumstances of suspension the bishop might not want to make public for whatever reason.[22]

Almost a thousand people, including several Washington politicians, signed a letter complaining against Bishop Lamy and his Vicar Machebeuf.  Padre José Miguel Gallegos—after a serious tiff with Vicar J. P. Machebeuf, left active ministry and became a politician, the first Hispanic Congressman in the U.S.—drafted the letter and sent it to the Holy Father.  Although Gallegos orchestrated the letter of complaint to Pope Pius IX against Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebeuf, these hierarchs may have held Padre Martinez responsible for having formed and influenced the former priest and pesky Congressman Gallegos.  I believe the embarrassment of Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebeuf before the Holy See was one of the main events that triggered Martinez’ extreme disfavor with Bishop Lamy. 

Since 1852, people complained to Bishop that Vicar General Macebeuf was breaking the seal of Confession.  The Bishop told the people that he would take care of it, but did nothing. They again complained, this time with the suggestion they would go to higher authority. After being effectively dismissed, Señor Tomás Baca—with at least the passive consent of Padre Gallegos–helped to garner over 900 signatures of people complaining about Machebeuf’s behavior. 

Meanwhile, Bishop Lamy suggested to his Vicar General Joseph Prospectus Macebeuf that he consult with Padre Martinez about the canonical dimensions of the allegation of direct violation of the seal of Confession.  Martinez was at first disposed to believe that Machebeuf was guilty,  but may have been pleased to be consulted in the affair.  After hearing Machebeuf’s version of what happened, Padre Martinez wrote to Bishop Lamy that he “was satisfied”[23] with Machebeuf’s explanation.  Martinez asserted in his letter to Lamy that Machebeuf was most likely carried away with overzealous preaching, but was not actually guilty of “direct violation” of the Seal of Confession.  Ironically, this letter would be used get Machebeuf off the proverbially papal hook when the matter once again surfaced before Roman authorities in the summer of 1856. 

[Another Topic: Padre Gallegos]

binding.  (My emphasis)  What’s to re-examine?  It was an invalid act of excommunication.  There’s no such thing as rescinding an invalid act.  It is per se invalid …You can’t rescind an invalid act. …There is no evidence of any trial by peers, as was required by the Canon Law at the time, and there was no evidence of allowing Martinez to defend himself….He [Lamy] could very well not have been [aware of the procedure].  I think it would be very important [to publicly declare the excommunication invalid]….I’d think that it’s really important to rehabilitate him.…The much good that he did do should be honored….The importance of the rehabilitation of Padre Martinez is not for the person per se, but for what he symbolized.

Both baptism and funeral books of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos mention the excommunication.  Servite priest Father Albert Gallegos, New
Mexico native and PADRES pioneer, authored a chapter on the canonical dimensions of the excommunication in Ray John Aragon’s book Lamy and Martinez.  In his book But Time and Chance [Sunstone Press], Fray Angelico Chavez challenges the notion that there was any real excommunication of Padre Martinez, much less schism.  Anyone
excommunicated as a vitandus, i.e., one to be avoided or shunned, is supposed to have his name published in the Roman publication the Acta Apostolica Sedis.  Before the publication of that journal, the names of vitandi—those TO BE AVOIDED—would have been inscribed at the Vatican in the Second Section of the tomes in the library of the Secretariat of State.  I did a thorough search of all Martinez names in the 19th
century, and found several.  However, during my research  at the beginning of the Jubilee Year 2000, I found no mention of any excommunication of Padre A.J. Martinez of Taos in any of the three Vatican Archives: 1)  the archives of the Secretariat of State,  2) Secretariat of State-Segunda Seccione (a confidential section reserved for records of  high profile or political cases), and 3)  the Archives of the Propagation of the Faith, now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, that had jurisdiction over the United States during its missionary phase after Independence from England until the end of the nineteenth century. 

Notification of a formal excommunication  should have certainly been recorded in Rome, and most certainly in the archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  However, there is no record in either place, and this means that if there were any kind of an excommunication,  it had to have been a purely local affair that was kept private for pastoral reasons, and not promulgated. 

In an unprecedented moment on March 12, 2000, the First Sunday of Lent of the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II knelt in St. Peter’s Basilica, and said, “We humbly ask forgiveness.” The Holy Father’s words and gestures were “the most sweeping papal apology ever, repenting for the errors of his church over the last 2,000 years.”     In the name of the Church, he was asking forgiveness from God for key lapses which she has committed over the past two millennia.  While the Holy Father was leading the Catholic world in a communal examination of our collective historical conscience, he acknowledged that church followers had “violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions.”   (My emphasis) 

John Paul II continued, “The church of today and of always feels obligated to purify the memory of those sad episodes of every sentiment of rancor or rivalry.  (My emphasis) The jubilee becomes in this way for every occasion an opportunity for a profound conversion to the Gospel.  From the acceptance of divine forgiveness is born the duty to forgive one’s brothers and seek reciprocal reconciliation.”

Vatican theologians explained the Pope’s apology for past sins of the church by saying that although the responsibility for sin does not pass from one generation of people to the next, “the wounds created by sin do often linger and may require judgment and repentance back through history.” (My emhphasis)

Since he announced the Jubilee Year in his 1994 apostolic letter written to the Catholic world On Reconciliation, John Paul followed up that
important act of reconciliation with even more dramatic gestures, e.g., the posthumous nullification of the sixteenth century excommunication of the scientist Gallileo.  More recently, there was a statement of reconciliation with pioneer Protestant John Hus. 

In sympathetic ceremonies held in cathedrals throughout the Catholic world, bishops made similar acts of repentance on March 12, 2000 and specified them according to their own local histories.  In Santa Fe, Archbishop Michael Shean asked forgiveness for sins against the American Indian, women, and black peoples.  However, there was no
specific apology for the systematic reduction of the native clergy soon after the American occupation in the mid nineteenth century.  Several were suspended from functioning in their ministry.  Padre Martinez, who in spite of his brilliance and long legacy of priestly service to his people, ended his life alienated from his bishop and excommunicated from the church.  The church is holy, but is stained by the
sins of its children, and requires “consant purification.”  The “new evangelization” for which the Pope has been calling in this third millennium can take place only after there be a church-wide “purification of memory.” 
“One of the characteristic elements of the great jubilee is purification of memory,” [Emphasis mine] stated Pope John Paul II.  “…in this year of mercy, the church, strengthened by the holiness that she receives from her Lord, kneels before God and begs for forgiveness for past and present sins of her sons….We forgive and we ask forgiveness!….”

Lynn Bridgers wrote in DEATH’S DECEIVER, The Life of Joseph P. Machebeuf [1997 University of New Mexico Press – Albuquerque, pp. 268] wrote the following about the historical relationship between the French and Spanish that I believe is accurate and interesting background for the relationship between Martinez and Lamy:

A legacy of mutual distrust between the Spanish and the French served as the rocky river bed over which many Anglo and Hispanic conflicts flowed.  With the arrival of Lamy and Machebeuf, the French seemed to have accomplished ecclesiastically what they were unable to do militarily, moving their sphere of influence from the French lands of the Louisiana Purchase into traditionally Spanish-dominated New Mexico….Machebeuf’s personal views of Hispanic culture reflect a long complex process of maturation.  His early work was sometimes darkened by ignorance and misconceptions about New Mexico’s Hispanic Catholicism, but by the end of his life he had grown far beyond mere tolerance, to a deep love and respect for the Spanish-speaking people of the American Southwest. 

On February 3, 1869, a year and a half after the death of Padre Martinez,  Bishop Lamy reported on progress of vocations to his mentor Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati. Lamy mentions a “schism” in Taos, but makes no mention of  any excommunication that is supposed to have taken place the Sunday after Easter  in 1858 or at any other time.  In an obiter dictum, Lamy mentions “a Schism” that Padre Martinez “made” (sicin 1860.  Lamy tells Purcell of the “Mission Jesuit
priest Father Gaspari was giving in Taos where “the unfortunate Martinez made a Schism that Lasted seven years [1860-1867] until the death of this said poor priest…. Most of the people, except some of his nearest relatives are coming back to obedience, and the mission which is producing a great change which leaves very few…”  
However, Lamy does not refer to any excommunication.  

Was an excommunication actually  made?  Was the prior suspension “secret,” i.e., ex consciencia informata, as some opine? Father Tom Steele, S.J. refers to Jesuit canonist Ladislaus Orsay in reference to the ecclesiastical penalty of “suspension from divine things” (celebrating Mass, preaching, hearing confessions).   Under certain circumstances, a bishop—without making it public—could invoke suspension of official license or faculties (permission) for a priest to act publicly in his diocese.  There would have to be good reason for a bishop to not make a suspension public, and it would need to be “from an informed conscience”  and for some greater good.  Nevertheless, it remains curious that Bishop Lamy did not ever publicly mention an excommunication of Padre Martinez  to episcopal peers or to family, to whom he often wrote about those pesky native  New Mexican priests.  Lamy does not mention the phrase about excommunication that he twice wrote in the parish books (Funerals and Baptism) of  the Taos church:  “…excommunication [of the unfortunate (infelíz) priest]…with all the required formalities…servatis servandis.

[12] Padre

Martinez made enemies with Charles Bent and his partners when he tangled with
them about land grant issues.

Note in Baptismal Register of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos for July 1,
1860, p. 143.  My translation.

[14] Paul
Horgan, Lamy of Santa Fe, Faraar, Strauss, Giroux, NT, c. 1975, pp.
243-44.  Original source, Howlett
(through Father Ussell),  Life of Bishop J.P. Macebeuf, First Bishop
of Denver
.  The dramatic scene of excommunication
was first described in Memories, the
journal of Father Gabriel Ussel who was the third successor of Padre Martinez
as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos, and a purported eyewitness
of the event.  Howlett  quoted Ussel as one of his sources for the
Machebuf biography, and others have followed suit: Twitchell,  Leading
Facts of New Mexico
Romero, Reluctant Dawn, p. 1; Father
Tom Steele, S.J. in “View from the Rectory” in New Perspectives From Taos published by Millicent Rogers Museum, p.
99 n.3; Lynn Bridgers (embellished the account of the excommunication in her
biography of Bishop Machebeuf) in her first footnote Death’s Deceiver, 1997 University of New Mexico Press, refers to
Father Gabriel Ussel’s journal Memories.  He was the French priest who was the third
the succeed Padre Martinez at Guadalupe Church in Taos within three years.

[15] Contumacy is
defined as flagrant disobedience or rebelliousness, or persistent refusal to
obey without good reason.

[16]From the Roman
Pontifical used in the 19th Century, Ordo Excommunicandi et Absolvendi, The Rite of Excommunicating and
Absolving, edited by order of Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.  It was made available to me through the
courtesy of Pat Lyons, Librarian, St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California.

[17] My translation
of marginal note in Baptismal Register
of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos for July 1, “Fifth Sunday After
Pentecost,” 1860, p. 143. Father Gabriel Ussel was the pastor of Taos when
Bishop Lamy came to celebrate the sung Pontifical Mass for the
Confirmands.  He had not visited the
parish since 1855, five years prior when Padre Martnez was still in
charge.  On this visit, the bishop
confirmed over 500 adults and children who were part of the jurisdiction of
Taos.  Spanish text is in appendix.

[18] Christmas
Letter of 1852-53.

[19] Letter of
Padre Martinez to Bishop Lamy, printed in the Gaceta of Santa Fe.

[20] The two most offensive provisions of the 1852 Christmas
Pastoral that Padre Martinez cited:

1) “The
faithful of this territory… will know that we have taken away from the priests
every faculty to administer the sacraments and give church burial to the heads
of families that refuse to faithfully hand over the tithes that are their

2) “From
February 1, 1854, triple the parish assessment will be charged for the
administration of the sacraments of baptism, matrimony and of church burial
from those faithful who belong to families that do not fulfill the fifth
Precept of the Church [to contribute to the support of the Church].”

[21] Archives of
the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Letter of Padre Martinez writing from Taos to
Bishop Lamy in Santa Fe, Ocober 24, 1857. This letter succeeds Padre Martinez’
prior missive sent to the bishop the previous year, November 12 1856.  It again outlines the principal grievances,
and asserts Padre Martinez as “cura
,” i.e. as an irremovable pastor” who is “free of suspension.”  The various grievances or “excesses of the
bishop” are presented.  They include the

1)    the
1851-1854 Pastoral Letter;

2)    the
suspension and take-over of Padre Gallegos’ Albuquerque house;

3)    the
suspension of ex-vicar Padre Juan Felipe Ortiz of Santa Fe whose house and
property was divided (although ultimately reimbursed); and

4)    the
Bishop’s alleged sale of church property—the Castrense or military chapel at
the edge of the Santa Fe chapel. 

Padre Martinez, with some delusion, also made other
un-winnable “demands”:

1) revocation of the Pastoral
Letter of January 14, 1854, because it is against the spiritual health of the

2) the admission that he,
Padre Martinez, is not really suspended for lack of the three warnings; and

3) the recognition that Padre
Martinez is still the priest in charge of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, i.e.
the cura proprio, since he is an “irremovable

4) that the Bishop remove
Father Damaso Taladrid, and send another assistant priest.  When these demands are met, Padre Martinez
says he will consider retiring.  

[22] Father Tom Steele, S.J., academic and premier New Mexico
historian, makes a case for suspensio ex
consciencia informata
. Respected Jesuit theologian and canon lawyer ,
Ladislas Orsy, brought that to the attention of Father Steele as a
possibility.  This would be a bishop’s
suspension of a priest that would prevent him from exercising his priestly
ministries.  This woud not be done
because of anything in the external forum, but because of the bishop’s
“informed and aware consciousness” that the priest is involved in some
nefarious dealings that the bishop might not want to make the public in order
to “avoid scandal” in the church or for some other proportionate reason.  According to this line of thought, Bishop
Lamy’s suspension might indeed have been valid.
However, it is difficult to uphold or deal with that in the external
forum of law.  The (schismatic) Council
of Pistoia and the Counter-Reformation Council of Trent treated the notion of suspensio ex consciencia informata, but
it was not commonly used nor even recognized.
It may have been in some moral theology or canon law books, but not
those of Padre Martinez.  The universal
body of canon laws binding the Catholic Church in the west was not,
surprisingly, formally codified until 1917, in the 20th
century.   It should not be such a great
surprise, then, that Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy may  have been dependent upon differing law texts.
Twenty years after the Second Vatican Council, in 1985, there was a major
revision of the Code of Canon Law that leaves no trace of ecclesistical censure
ex conscincia informata.

[23] Horgan, p. __.

[24] Gallegos used
his position as Democratic Congressman in Washington to orchestrate for Pope
Pius IX a letter of complaints against Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebuf.  In January of 1856, thirty-seven Legislators
of Territory of New Mexico signed the letter of complaints. In April 1856, they
sent it to the Holy Father from Washington, D.C. with a cover letter signed by
Congressman Gallegos.

[25] “This pastoral
seems to have provoked all this opposition…started by some priests of bad
fame…and who easily find followers among the ignorant and vicious people.  The main author of these claims is a certain
Gallegos, parish priest at Albuquerque who was scandalously living with a woman
of bad reputation.  Since he proved to be
incorrigible, he was interdicted by Mons. Lamy himself, and now is a parliament
member at Washington for the State of New Mexico.  The same [incorrigiblity] is declared, more
or less, about the other priests who signed the claim against Mons. Lamy.”

[26] My emphasis,
but the phrase belongs to the secretary-archivist accurately paraphrasing
Machebeuf’s negative value-judgment.

[27] Ibid.
The auditors of the Propagation of the Faith presented Father Machebeuf
with the documentation of allegations the Holy Father had received from
ex-Padre-turned-Congressman Gallegos writing from Washington, D.C.  The cover letter and documentation was
accompanied by signatures of over nine hundred Catholic faithful (!) including
thirty-four legislators of New Mexico. 

[28] Vatican
secretary-archivist’s summary of Father J. P. Machebeuf’s defense in Rome,
Letter #12 for year 1856-57 in Letters
and Documents of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe

[29] Horgan, Lamy of Santa Fe, p. ___.

[30] Horgan, p.
229.  The author of Lamy of Santa Fe continues, “and he has never failed in a show of personal respect [my emphasis] towards
the bishop…[but]…we are sure public opinion is against him.”  The “public opinion” to which
Machebeuf referred referred to that of new comers who became enemies of the
controversial Padre.  Padre Martinez was
Bishop Lamy’s most “formidable” adversary because he was the
“most intelligent and even least corrupt.”  (Horgan, p. 219)  Nevertheless, Padre Martinez continued to
remain greatly loved and exceedingly popular among the greatest number of native

[31] Ibid.p. 219.

[32] Ibid.

[33] He was the
father of his legitimate daughter María de La Luz born c. 1819, and whose
mother died in childbirth.  After Antonio
José went to the seminary in Durango, the young girl was given to the care of
her maternal grandparents.  She herself
died at the tender age of 12.  Two other
children merit special mention: Santiago Valdez (AKA Marquez/Martinez), author
of the 1877 biography of the priest, and Vicente Ferrer Romero who became a
pioneer Presbyterian evangelist.

[34] E. K. Francis,
“Padre Martinez: A New Mexican Myth,” New
Mexico Historical Review
(Vol. XXXI, No. 4 – October 1956, p 289.

[35] He was also
the author of a biography of the Padre Sanchez, Memorias del Presbítero Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos, printed
in 1904.

[36] Interview with Max Cordova de Truchas, AMIGOS, Volumen XII,
Nivel III, #2 © 2001 Semos Unlimited, Inc., Santa Fe NM 87505. My translation
form Spanish.

[37] I Cor.

[38] Cf. Newspaper ____ in Taos Research
Center, Nita Murphy.  Archbishop Sanchez
asked canon lawyer Lucien Hendren to begin investigation of procedure.  It seems that “Angelico Chavez advised the
Archbishop against that course of action, I do not know why.”  (Msgr. Jerome Martinez in conversation with
Fr. Juan Romero, c. 2004.)  In January
1993, on the occasion of the funeral of Father Mike O’Brien in Mora, Archbishop
Sanchez told me he was once again prepared to take up the cause.  However, he was soon thereafter retired.

[39] Msgr. Jerome
Martinez made the statement on October 1, 2001 in Santa Fe without
qualifications to filmmaker Paul Espinosa of Espinosa Productions.  Interview transcribed by Marisa Espinosa.
[jerome.doc] Monsignor Martinez stated that an ideal time to have done this
would have been during the Jubilee Year 2000.  He also mentioned that Fray Angelico Chavez
advised Archbishop Sanchez against making a public statement as to the
invalidity of the excommunication. 

[40] Ibid.

Historical Archives, made available from Al Pulido.

[42] Ibid., p. 58

[43]In a
picture taken in 1903, Vicente F. Romero (Lic.), is seen as one of sixteen  “Native Mexican Workers,” clergy and/or lay
evangelists for the Presbyterian Faith.
Others identified include Tomas Atencio (#9 – student of Chimayo/Dixon),
Rev. Gabino Rendón (#13 of Santa Fe), and Rev. José Yñes Perea (#15 of
Pajarito).  Cf. Our Mexicans by the Rev. Robert M. Craig, NY, Board of Home
Missions of the Presbyterian Church, 1904, p. 102.]

Document of the Presbyterian Church, from Al Pulido.    


The Taos Uprising of January-February 1847, with the assassination of Charles Bent, New Mexico’s first governor under the United States, was a significant flashpoint in the NM theatre of the US-Mexican War.  In my article on Padre Martínez in Seeds of Struggle, Harvest of Hope published by LDP Press, I treat the role of Padre Martinez in the aftermath of the events around Taos in early 1847.   New Mexico Mercury published an excerpt from Benjamin Read’s Guerra Mexico Americano that he wrote in Spanish in 1910 from his unique perspective as a native New Mexican born of an Anglo father and Hispanic mother.   In this excerpt, Chapter 17 of my English translation of Guerra Mexico Americana  that I hope to be fully published, Benjamin Read writes about Padre Martínez and others involved in the conflict.



Benjamin Maurice Read,
pioneer native New Mexican historian, in 1910 wrote from his perspective a history
of the US-Mexican War waged from the occupation of Santa Fe by US forces on
August 18, 1846 to the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of February 2, 1848.  A century and a half after the occupation, my
Uncle Tom (my father’s younger brother by seven years) helped me translate
eleven chapters from Spanish to English. 
Recently, Antonio José Martínez (it’s no accident this Harvard-trained
lawyer for Amazon Books has the same name as the famous Cura de Taos) nudged me
hard to finish the work.  With the help
of his father Vicente, with whom I have for years been collaborating about the
Padre, the work of translation is almost completed.  UNM Press has shown interest in publishing it.
Stay tuned!

  For the past six weeks, I have been helping to celebrate Masses at Big Bear Lake,
CA (almost the same altitude as Taos!) while the pastor has been away.  It has been a welcome relief from the
desert’s summer heat where I reside, but am now returning to help out at a
parish in Cathedral City. 

 This past weekend has been
especially busy for me: four weekend Masses and two sessions of Confessions
that is pretty routine.  What made it “busier” than usual, but at
the same time so JOYFUL and ENJOYBLE, was trying to keep up with Pope Francis
and the THREE MILLION PLUS young people with him in Brazil.  What an
extraordinary event!  Through the miracle
of wi-fi and computer, I was able to keep tabs on what was happening.  My
guardian angel woke me before 5 AM on Sunday, on time to watch what led up to
the Mass and its celebration on Copacabana Beach below the giant image of
Christ the King.  I was reminded of the final scene in Slum Dog
Millionaire that has about a hundred young people doing a dance routine between
two long lines of stationary railroad cars.  MULTIPLY THAT to equal
3,000,000 plus!  Before the liturgy began, Pope Francis viewed that choreographed
homage from a TV in the sacristy.  All banners were lowered, and a
reverential silence ensued immediately preceding the Mass.

  The Pope’s most historic and well-received visit to Brazil was strong in both
style, but more importantly in substance.  I commend Canadian Catholic
media outlet Salt and Light for their
excellent live coverage in the U.S. and throughout the English-French speaking
world and beyond

   (Not unrelated Congratulations
to the parents of the newly born royal baby! 
By the way, the infant has the same
(besides that of several of his ancestors) as our new American pope (from the continent of America) given at
his baptism—JORGE that means Geroge.

  A few coming dates important to me personally:

August 31 – my 75th birthday; October 23 – my dad’s hundredth birthday; he died in 1996; April 30, 2014 – my 50th anniversary as a priest

address for The Taos Connection: [email protected]




Juan Romero


Today—October 21, 2012—ten
days after the Golden Jubilee of the Second Vatican Council and the opening of
the Year of Faith,  Kateri Tekakwitha was
officially canonized a saint.  Together
with her, Pope Benedict XVI also declared six others saints. I was privileged
to be among a crushing throng of thousands in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Saint Kateri, “Lily of the
Mohawks,” was born of an Algonquin mother and Mohawk chief in what is today
upstate New York near the Canadian border. 
She is the first native American to be canonized.  Both of her parents died by the time she was
four, and Kateri died from smallpox in 1680 at the young age of 24.

I learned today from an
eastcoaster that her name is properly pronouced KATeri.  His companion commented it was a case of potaaato/potahto.  From a NY Times article, I also learned that
Tekakwitha was a nick-name given her after she became partially blind from
smallpox.  It means “She who bumps into

It is not a stretch to connect
St. Kateri to New Mexico.  My affection
for her is related to my roots there, and my love for the Taos Pueblo and its
people.  Corina Santistevan, New Mexican
historian and preservationist, as well as one of my special mentors, has
greatly promoted devotion to Kateri in the north (of NM) where love for the new
saint has increased in recent years. 
Kateri’s canonization comes toward the end of this year that began on
January 6 with the centennial celebration of New Mexico as a State of the Union.  It had been a Territory of the United States
since its military occupation in 1846. 

It seems super-ironic to me
that St. Kateri Tekakwitha died in 1680, the same year in which took place the
only successful rebellion of Native Americans against Europeans, Spanish
settlers. Popé, a talented shaman, linguist and warrior from Ohkay Owingeh
Pueblo, coordinated the uprising beginning in Taos. Spanish colonists in 1598 had
named the Pueblo San Juan, and Popé is clearly to be distinguished from “the
pope.”  The settlers were driven south
toward the El Paso area and beyond, but returned thirteen years later, somewhat
chastened and having learned to live in peace with the original
inhabitants.  May Kateri intercede today for
all peoples to live toether in peace in spite of cultural and religious

I see Kaeri as a “suffering
servant type,” and a figure of reconciliation. 
She died of a disease unknown to Indians before the coming of the White
man, and in that sense—although herself innocent—took our burdens upon

I also see her as a liminal
person, one of the saints of the American continent who unites people across
borders.  Her mother introduced her to
her Catholic faith. Faithful to it, she studied it as a young woman and was
baptized at eighteen.  Ridicued for her
fatih, she moved to Canada where Catholics claim her as their own, as well as
people of the entire American continent including the United States, Central
and South America.  After more than five
centuries of evangelization in the new world of America, and four centuries
after her death, she is the first “Native American” to finally be canonized.

Today I salute the people of
the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians with whom I have been privileged to
work. The Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Palm Springs this last December celbrated
the centennial Cahuilla Indians donated land to the Catholic Church through the
Bishop of San Diego.

As we begin this Year of
Faith, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council was inaugurated, may Saint
Kateri Tekakwitha help us to grow in our Catholic faith and to be conscious
agents of the “new evangelization.”







[Letter to
an artistic Taoseña,  close relative of Padre Martinez –
written 2004, revised 2012.]




Fr. Juan Romero

Dear Maya:


ask my opinion on clerical celibacy.  Yes, I think it should become
optional for any diocesan priest.  In my view, this would greatly enhance
the freedom with which a priest to whom God has given the charism of celibacy
will live it.  Within a few sentences discussing marriage, adultery,
divorce, and virginity or celibacy, Jesus’ disciples suggested, “it is better
not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to
whom that is granted…. Some [are incapable of marriage] because they…have
renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven….Whoever can
accept this ought to accept it.”[1]

Paul gave his own witness in favor of celibacy for practical motives as well as
for theological reasons.  He was single-hearted, and counseled
celibacy to other disciples and evangelizers to be fully concerned for the
service of the people to whom they are sent instead of being wrapped up in the
cares of wife and family.[2] In
Paul’s teaching, celibacy is a charism, a special gift given by God for
building up the Body of Christ, the Church.  It is a gift freely given,
and awaits a free response.  Both the gift and response have to be free if
God is to be pleased.  If a response to a gift is somehow forced,
then there is no real freedom in the response.  Freedom has to be from
within the mind and heart.  If celibacy is a charism, a gift God
gives to a particular person for the good of the whole Church, let us hope that
such a person freely accepts the gift.

a person must also be free not to accept a particular gift from God
without in any way fearing s/he might be punished for not accepting a gift
offered.  Furthermore, no one should try to pretend s/he has a gift
from God if in fact s/he does not.  The pretense is worse if the
person then tries to live as if s/he has a gift of “wisdom, knowledge, healing,
mighty deed, prophecy, discernment of spirits, gift of tongues, interpretation
of tongues,”[3]…or
celibacy.  For example, being an artist is a gift of God; it is a talent
that comes from Him.  For sure, one has to work at it in order to better
develop it.  While only some may have the gift of celibacy, there are
others who definitely do not.  Any gift God gives is for His greater glory
and the service of people.  Of course, a gift—talent
or charism—given by God may also be used for self-fulfillment and as a way
to make a living, but only secondarily.

Pauline text on Marriage and Virginity[4] merits
prayerful reflection by anyone interested in understanding or
appreciating celibacy.  The footnotes in a bible[5] are
worth studying and contemplating.  Here are some texts from Chapter 7 of
St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians that I particularly recommend for

  • “Indeed,
    I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of
    one kind and one of another.”[6]
  • “…Everyone
    should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one.”[7]
  • “Now
    in regard to virgins I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my
    opinion…that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is,”[8]
    i.e. either married or single.
  • “I
    should like you to be free of anxieties.  An unmarried man is anxious
    about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.  But a married
    man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and
    he is divided….”[9]
  • “So
    then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her
    will do better.”[10]

celibacy matters because of the example of Jesus, the exhortation of St. Paul,
and the practice of several centuries in the Western (Latin Rite) Church.[11] However,
for a Catholic clergyman to be required to be celibate is not a dogma of the
Church, and therefore theoretically could be changed.[12] The
apostles were all married, except for St. John. We hear about how Jesus cured
Peter’s mother-in-law when he lived with them.[13] For
the first ten centuries of the Church, the great majority of clergy were
married.  At the same time, there has always been the witness of monks and
later religious order priests such as Franciscans, Dominicans, etc. who are
religious by definition because they take the three vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Celibacy is an evangelical
counsel, not a divine mandate.  Although clerical celibacy is not
essential to priesthood, it is a serious discipline.  For Catholic
clergy in the Western Church, celibacy is a matter of church law as well as an
evangelical counsel.  The bishop may punish celibacy’s flagrant violation
with the ecclesiastical censure of suspension from officiating at the sacred
duties of presiding at Mass and administering

In my
opinion, if the rule mandating celibacy were to be changed, that would
strengthen the freedom of celibacy as a charism by which one freely
responds to God’s call.  It is a vocation that can be lived with
authenticity only if it is freely chosen in response to God’s initiative.
It is obviously not for everyone, nor is it even necessarily a “better
way,” but only different.  It is, however, very definitely a call to
some.  Part of its importance within the Catholic community is that it
bears witness to the future—the fullness of the coming of the kingdom—when
giving in marriage will no longer be.

life of celibacy is essential to the chosen life of a vowed religious priest,
brother, or sister. Taking the vow of celibacy, together with the vows of
poverty and obedience, is what makes a Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit or member
of any religious order fall into the category of a religious.  A diocesan
priest—sometimes called a secular priest[14] because
he lives “in the world, but is not of it”— is not
irreligious.  However, he is not a religious in the manner of one who
takes vows to keep the evangelical counsels.  This is one of the main
distinctions between a diocesan/secular priest and a religious order priest or
sister.  Nevertheless, the diocesan/secular priest promises to live
in the spirit of the evangelical counsels as they apply to his state of life,
but is not bound to them by the virtue of religion.

important difference between a diocesan/secular priest and a religious is that
a religious priest is immediately subject to the authority of his religious
superior, sometimes called a provincial.  On the other hand, a
diocesan priest is immediately subject to the authority of the local bishop of
his diocese.  A diocesan/secular priest belongs to a diocese, the local
church.  The priest is “incardinated into” or hooked onto a
particular diocese, like a hinge on a door. The diocese is the “door,” and the
“hinge” is the promise of reverence and obedience to the particular bishop
of that diocese, together with the promise to serve the people of that local
church. The real authority for any priest has to be Jesus Christ, but his
immediate earthly authority is either the superior for a religious priest, or
the local bishop for a secular/diocesan priest.  In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries–when there were only Franciscans in New Mexico–the
Franciscan Custos (Guardian) was the main person directly in
charge of priest-personnel.

the ninth century, celibacy became a rule for all priests of the Latin Rite in
the Western Church.  One of the primary goals of the rule, as
Father Cozzen explains,[15] was
to insure that church property would not be passed onto the children of a
priest.  Priests that you are familiar with are of the Latin Rite.
Most western Catholics are not well informed about the Eastern Rites of our
one, holy, Catholic (universal), and apostolic church.  Eastern Rite Catholics believe
all the same doctrines (dogmas) that we do; they have the same sacraments
(Eucharist is central for them as well); they honor Blessed Mary with great
devotion, maybe even more than we do; and they are in union with the Holy
Father in Rome.

the Eastern Rite Catholic Church in union with Rome, as well as the Greek
Orthodox Church separated from Rome, maintain their custom of a married
clergy.  However, in the early twentieth century, the Latin Church
imposed its discipline of celibacy upon Eastern Rite clergy residing and
ministering in the United States. Eastern Rite Catholics are not to be
confused with members of the Eastern Orthodox Church who also
adhere to the same dogmas, have the same sacraments, and honor
Mary.  However, they do not acknowledge the authority of the pope in
the same way we do.  Their members are our closest brothers and
sisters within the family of Christians.  Although the will of God
and prayer of Jesus is that we “all be one,”[16] we
have sadly and scandalously been estranged since Great Western Schism of
1054.  We Roman Catholics believe that our Holy Father in Rome is the
successor of St. Peter whom Jesus chose—together with all of Peter’s
successors—to be the visible head of the Church on earth.  “And so I say
to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”[17] The Greek
Orthodox Church may have great respect for the Bishop of Rome as the Patriarch
of the West, but it does not see him in the same way as Catholics.

my opinion, a change in the rule of celibacy making it optional for priests of
the Latin Rite to marry or not would enhance the practice of celibacy. God
freely gives the gift (charism) to whomever He wills.  Some diocesan
priests who have received and accepted the charism of celibacy happily and
faithfully live out that life.  Other diocesan priests who perhaps feel
called both to priesthood and to marriage would be able to integrate both
vocations into their lives.  Monks and religious order priests, however,
would always live their charism of the celibate life that is intrinsic to the
nature of their vocation, fidelity to the evangelical councils that includes

change in policy would allow diocesan priests to either marry or to remain
single.  Many priests perhaps may choose to marry if given the
option.  However, those who choose to remain single “for the sake of
the kingdom of heaven”[18] would
do so because God has called them to live a celibate life and has given them
the graces to do so.  With His actual graces, the Lord helps a priest
or religious woman live their celibate vocation fully and freely.  These
graces enable a person to act with an enlightened mind to better discern God’s
holy will, and an energized heart to fully, faithfully, and freely follow God’s
will. The Lord gives these special helps (graces) to the persons He wills to
bless with the gift (charism) of celibacy.  However, each person so
gifted has to freely accept the gift, and to ask the Lord for His help to
remain faithful in living it out.

may be surprise you to know that even at the present time in the Western
Rite—in both Europe and here in the United States– there are Catholic priests
in good standing who are also married!  This is the case of some Lutheran
and Anglican men who were married clergymen and later became Catholics.
Keeping their wives, they were ultimately ordained as Catholic priests.

predict there will someday be a change in the discipline of celibacy that would
allow some so-called “permanent” deacons who are married to eventually also
become ordained as priests while retaining their wives.  Deacons are
already part of the hierarchy– the “holy orders” of deaconate, priesthood, and
episcopacy. Such deacons ready and willing to respond to the call to
priesthood will have already shown well-developed qualities of stability and
spiritual maturity.  Their stability is reflected in solid marriages, and
their spiritual maturity echoed by consistent and effective service as deacons serving
the community over a period of years, perhaps seven.  Such a deacon would
likely be required to spend a year or two in formative preparation for
ordination to priesthood.   If there is to be a change in the
discipline of celibacy for clergy of the Western Rite, the Holy Spirit will
show the way, and it will happen in God’s good time, God’s right

briefly review for you some history of your antepasado: Antonio
José Martínez, born of the Martín Serrano clan in 1793 at the Plaza of
Santa Rosa in Abiquiú, validly married a distant relative when he was a
young man of 19.  He fathered a daughter in the town of his birth,
but the following year, his wife died in childbirth.  Two years
later, leaving his daughter with her maternal grandparents, Antonio José traveled
to Durango to enter the seminary and study for the priesthood.  At
the time, all of New Mexico and surrounding regions belonged to the diocese of
Durango that was part of the Kingdom of Spain. The year before he was ordained
in 1822, the Republic of Mexico had become independent from Spain, and Taos
became the northern frontier of the new Republic.  After six years of
study, he was ordained a priest at the age of 29.

he returned to Taos before formally finishing his studies, and lived with his
parents while recuperating from his breathing ailment. Meanwhile, Padre
Martinez helped the elderly Franciscan pastor of San Geronimo parish whose seat
was at the Taos Pueblo.  The parish included Our Lady of Guadalupe
Church at the Taos Plaza, a mission of the Pueblo Church, and the church of his
boyhood.  He got better, and was assigned as the priest in charge of
Tomé south of Albuquerque, and then another stint at
Santo Tomás Church in Abiquiú where he had been baptized,
married, and where his wife lay buried.  During this time, he had the
opportunity to re-connect with his daughter who was living with her
grandparents, his in-laws and parents of his deceased wife.  Alas,
within a year, his daughter María de La Luz also died at the young
age of twelve in the year 1825.  By 1826,
Padre Martínez was assigned to become the priest in charge of San
Geronimo parish that included his beloved church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in
Taos.  He was to have an eventful career for the next forty-two years
not only as a priest, but also as an educator, journalist-printer-publisher,
rancher, lawyer and politician.  His concern for the poor wherever he
was became a hallmark of his ministry.

1851, Santa Fe and its environs (including Taos) became part of a new diocese
within the United States.  However, after a few years, he began to
have conflicts with his bishop, and the last years of his life were clouded in
controversy with his new bishop.  However, his peers in the
Territorial Legislature continued to hold him in high regard, and upon his
death in 1867 carved this encomium upon his tombstone: “La Honra de
Su País
/The Honor of His Homeland.”

Martinez was an intellectual and practical leader who did wonderful things for
the benefit of the people of New Mexico and beyond.  His
accomplishments were great, and so were some of his faults including pride and
obstinacy.  Bishop Jean B. Lamy suspended him in 1856, and
excommunicated him in 1858 for his “scandalous writings” against the bishop’s policy
re-introducing tithing.  Even as a young priest, as far back as 1829,
Padre Martinez had resisted that policy enshrined in the civil law of the
Republic of Mexico because it was an excessive burden on the
poor.  He later, during the mid 1830s, used his legislative skills to
change civil law to make tithing illegal.

Bishop Lamy nor his Vicar General Joseph Machebeuf ever
alleged immoral behavior on the part of Padre Martinez, but the fact is that he
did have children while serving as the priest of Taos.  He definitely
had a vocation to the intellectual life, and service for the benefit of the
people, especially the poor.  He may have had a vocation to the
priesthood, but he certainly did not have the charism of celibacy.

Your tío Vicente
has written clearly about the progeny of Padre Martínez, and is publishing
the results of his extensive research.  I commend to you his work
soon to be published in a genealogical journal, but wish to highlight a few
items I deem especially significant:

  • In his
    Last Will and Testament, modified and ratified a month before he died in 1867,
    Padre Martínez mentions briefly—almost curtly—his only legitimate
    daughter María de La Luz who was named after his young wife that died
    in childbirth.  He was to have two other daughters given the same
    name, the first also died as an infant.  Padre Martínez had
    a predilection for the name, and a great devotion to Blessed Mary
    under the title La Purísima Concepción de María.  He
    kept and revered a favorite image still extant among the heirlooms of
    the family; his private oratorio and graveside (campo santo)
    were dedicated to La Purísima.
  • His
    first son was born in July 1830 around the feast of Santiago (July
    25).  There have been questions about the identity of the mother,
    whether or not Padre Martinez was actually the father, and from whom did
    Santiago get his last name of Valdez.  It seems clear that Padre
    Martinez was indeed the father of Santiago Valdez, and a certain Theodora
    Marquez was his mother. Your uncle Vicente Martínez deftly
    and thoroughly provides answers to most questions raised, and I emphasize a few
    items. Padre Martinez had a special love
    for Santiago—educated him well in his own schools (elementary school, seminary
    and law school), brought him up as part of his own family (the Padre refers to
    him in his Will as “mi familiar”), named him administrator of his Last
    will and Testament. He also asked Santiago
    and Vicente Ferrer, the next to youngest son and future Presbyterian
    evangelizer, to be care-takers of his private chapel. The Padre bequeathed to Santiago and to his
    descendants the use of the Padre’s own family name of Martinez, i.e., children
    of Martín.  Finally, Padre Martinez left his precious books and
    documents to Santiago Valdez. In 1877, a decade after the Padre’s death,
    Santiago would stitch together the Biografía del Presbêtero Antonio
    José Martínez, Cura de Taos
    today found in
    the Ritch Collection of the Huntington Library near Los Angeles. A fully annotated scholarly version English
    is scheduled for publication in the near future.
  • Padre Martinez had other children with Teodora Romero
    Trujillo.  At 16, she married a Mr. Oliver, and gave birth to a
    daughter in 1826.  Within a short time and maybe at the same
    time—perhaps in an accident—both father and daughter died.  This
    was the same year that Padre Martínez returned to Taos as the new
    priest in town.  The young widow Theodora lived with her parents
    next door to the Padre’s house, and she eventually became the priest’s
    housekeeper. Human circumstances led both first to mutual friendship, and
    eventually—within four years–blossomed into a more intimate and long-term
    relationship.  Their respective fathers had known each other and
    worked together in Taos since the early nineteenth century.  It is
    quite possible that Severino Martínez and José Romero–the respective fathers
    of Padre Martinez and Teodora Romero–were business partners.  Their
    names are associated with the land and building of Guadalupe Church in Taos
    since 1804. Furthermore, Severino obtained
    some nearby land that in 1825 he gave for the building of a residence to his
    son the new parish priest in town.
    Moreover, both Padre Martínez and Theodora had been widowed at
    a young age, and each also had lost a daughter. The priest and his young
    housekeeper had a son, and over the following fourteen years, the couple would
    have a number of children.  As a loving and dutiful father, Padre
    Martinez in his Last Will and Testament explicitly and adequately provided for
    each of them.

Padre Martínez named
his next son, born of Theodora in 1831, George—not Jorge.  By
family lore, it is thought that this name in English was given to honor George
Washington for whom Padre Martinez had great appreciation.  The
maternal grandparents were José Romero and María Trujillo.

  • Next
    to the last son was Vicente Ferrer Romero, born in
    1844.  He is a significant figure in New Mexican history insofar as
    he carried on the religious and publication legacy of his father, the
    priest.  However, he did so as a Presbyterian evangelist and
    publisher of Protestant tracts.  When in his formative
    teenage years, thirteen and fourteen, the controversy between
    Bishop Lamy and Padre Martinez was cresting and exploded into
    suspension and finally excommunication by 1858.  By the time Vicente
    Ferrer Romero was a mature man entering his thirties, he came into contact with
    the Presbyterian minister Rev. Roberts, and in 1873 invited him to Taos where
    Vicente helped him establish a school. Vicente Ferrer Romero became
    an effective circuit rider appealing to many disaffected Catholics who were smarting
    and devastated the denunciation of their beloved Cura de Taos.

band of Jesuit priests gave missions in Taos after Padre Martinez died in
1867. As a result, many families and
individuals who had been disaffected returned to the Catholic Church, but
certainly not all.  What is true is that both Catholics and
Presbyterians over the years have become more united in their appreciation of
Padre Martinez, Cura de Taos, and appreciative of his
legacy.  At the unveiling of the bronze life-sized memorial of Padre
Martinez placed at the center of the Taos Plaza in July
2006, Edmundo Vasquez—a relative of the Padre and committed
Presbyterian layman—prayed the main prayer of dedication for the event.

Martinez died reconciled to his Church through the sacraments of Penance,
Anointing and Holy Communion administered by Padre Lucero of Arroyo Hondo—his
former student, friend and neighbor.  In my own prayers, I often
commend Padre Martínez to the Lord, and I invite you to do the same. He
succeeded in doing a lot of good, and followed his conscience.  May
we do the same.


God bless him and all of us!

Padre Juan

Juan Romero







[1] Mt. 19: 10-12, New American Bible.

[2] I Cor. 7.

[3] Cf. I Cor. 12-14 for St. Paul’s theology and
practical exhortations about  charisms for
the good of the community.

[4] I Cor. 7.

[5] Such as the New American Bible published by Oxford
University Press Inc., New York.

[6] I Cor. 7:7.

[7] I Cor. 7:17.

[8] I Cor. 7:26.

[9] I Cor. 7: 33-34.

[10] I Cor. 7: 38.

[11] The discipline of clerical celibacy has been the rule for
Catholic clergy of the Roman Rite since the Second Lateran Council in the tenth

[12] For a history of Celibacy in the Church, and an opinion of
its possible future direction, Cf. Donald Cozzens, Freeing
© 2006:

[13] Mt 8:14.

[14] From the Latin saeculum that means world.

[15] Cozzens, op. cit., passim.

[16] Jn 17:21.

[17] Mt. 16: 18.

[18] Mt. 19:12



OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – Feastday December 12

Padre Martinez was in charge of la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Taos, New Mexico from 1826 until 1858.  When he was first assigned there, it was an asistencia of the main parish church of San Geronimo located at the nearby Taos Pueblo. Guadalupe Church did not formally gain parish status until 1842.  Nevertheless, it is one of the oldest churches  dedicated to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is continually functioning as a Catholic church (now for over two centuries) in the United States.   

The first Guadalupe Church in Taos was constructed around 1802 at the La Plaza de Don Fernando.  It fell into serious disrepair, but was used until 1911 when it was replaced by another building in time for New Mexico statehood in early 1912. [My two older brothers–Airforce Major J. Tobias Romero (retired) and Rev. C. Gilbert Romero, Ph. D. were baptized at that venerable church.]   That church was sadly destroyed by fire in the summer of 1961 a few months after joyful ordination of Father Gilbert, fifty years ago this past April 25.]  A third church, phoenix-like, rose from its ashes within a year and located across the road from the original location.  
I have served as a priest at three different California parishes dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe: one in Santa Barbara, another in La Habra, and more recently in Palm Springs. Precisely one hundred years ago today, the leadership of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs signed a document with twelve signatures thereby donating choice land to the Diocese of San Diego to be used for worship.  The church built on that land is today’s Guadalupe Church in Palm Springs.  Congratulations on the Centennial!

According to the story of Guadalupe, Mary appeared to the Indian Juan Diego a few consecutive times towards the end of 1531.  Very early in the morning of December 12, she appeared again and encouraged this unschooled and yet unbaptized catechumen and urged him to take her message to Bishop Zumaraga that a church in her honor be built on the spot upon which she was appearing.  It was Tepeyac Hill in today’s Mexico City.  The actual location was the site of the goddess Tonantzin, goddess of fertility sacred to the Aztecs.
Just as Blessed Mary “took over” the cult that had been rendered to Artemis in Ephesus (Cf. Acts 19:23, sq.), so also does Mary under the title of Guadalupe take over the cult that had been rendered to Tonantzin. In Catholic theology, Mary is not a goddess, but is the mother of Jesus Christ true God as well as true man.  He was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” as the Apostle’s Creed states.  Therefore, she can rightfully be called the “Mother of God.” 
Only ten years after the noche triste of 1521 that inaugurated the Spanish conquest, Mary appeared in the center of the new world—the American continent– not as a Spaniard nor as an Indian, but as the mestiza (racially mixed) brown virgin.  “Am I not your mother?” she assures Juan Diego, and then invited him to be her  ambassador before the Bishop.
Catholic faithful and others (Catholics who are not so “faithful” as well as many non-Catholics, including some non Christians) have a devotion to the mother of Jesus especially under the title of Guadalupe.  To Spanish ears, that name sounded like a name already familiar to them.  At the Monastery of Guadalupe in Extramadura, home to many of the conquistadores, there was a “black Virgin” widely venerated.  However, the similar-sounding word in Nahuatl is translated as “she who crushes the head of the serpent”–understood as a reference to Genesis 3:15.  This biblical citation is “The First Good News” or Protoevangelium.  Immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, God spoke to Satan in the form of the serpent and told him that the offspring of the woman (Eve) would crush the head of the serpent, but in the process, the “offspring” of the serpent would in turn wound the heel of the woman’s offspring’s.  This text was the earliest foundation for messianic HOPE that prophets, speaking in the name of the Lord, helped to specify.   Christian interpretation of that text understands  “the woman’s offspring” first of all as the human race (Eve is “mother of all the living”), then as the Jewish people, and finally as Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Mary, Son of God. 
In the middle of the Basilica of Guadalupe, the imprint of Mary’s image on Juan  Diego’s tilma  is preserved and venerated as a holy icon.  It is appropriately  flanked by the the flags of  every nation of the continent of America.  Mexico City is the approximate geographical center of the continent of the new world.  My confrere Father Virgil Elizondo likes to point out, “Just as Mary of Nazareth gave birth to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, so also Mary of Nazareth–with her apparitions to Juan Diego– gave birth to Jesus Christ in the new world of America.”  She is the primary  evangelizer of America, the continent.


CEHILA-USA Conference at Miami, Florida

June 30, 2008

In 1943, my family came to Los Angeles from Taos and Albuquerque, NM. Dad landed a wartime job as an accountant for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. The journey and our settlement was part of a long tradition of the New Mexican colonization of southern California whose culmination had taken place almost a century before. Antecedents of a pattern of migration to California—through Baja California– go back before the founding of the United States.[1][i] Between 1830 and 1842, over 150 families from New Mexico came and settled in southern California, making up the largest population center between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Although the territory historically had a variety of names, the area was best known as Agua Mansa or San Salvador, clustering around today’s town of Colton on the border between San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The inhabitants of these various small villages came to California from New Mexico through Abiquiu northwest of Santa Fe and southwest of Taos, and the majority settled in the area’s neighborhoods within a four-year span from 1838 to 1842. Of course, some of the New Mexican immigrants settled in the much larger town of Los Angeles, and others traveled into northern California and other environs.

The leader or trail master of this trek from New Mexico to California in the fall of 1841 was Lorenzo Trujillo. His partners leading the group were fellow Abiqueños and mule-wrangler Hipolitano Espinosa, and Comandante José Antonio Martinez de La Rosa (de La Puente) was guide. Comandante Martinez was a single man, and would not become a settler as Trujillo and Espinosa were doing. It was the Comandante, however, who about four days after their arrival in California, would on November 9, 1842 make the contact with Mexican immigration authorities in Los Angeles to advise them the group from New Mexico had arrived.

Five early settlers from Abiquiú in Southern California had various degrees of kinship
with Padre Antonio José Martínez who was also in Abiquiú. Although popularly
known as the Cura de Taos, Padre Martínez shared the same place of birth and most likely some personal interaction with these five who enjoyed a strong New Mexico-California Connection: Julian Chavez, Santiago Martínez, Comandante José Antonio Martínez, Lorenzo Trujillo, and Encarnación Martínez de Rowland.

Julian Chavez had come to Los Angeles in 1830 at the tender age of twenty, and was Vice Mayor of Los Angeles by the time he was thirty. Since 1958, his name has been linked with the L.A. Dodgers who at that time made “Chavez Ravine”[2][ii] their home. The other Aquiqueños were transplanted in and around various small communities surrounding what is today the town of Colton along the border of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. It is liminal space—a miniature borderland–along the Santa Ana River at the crossroads of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads as well as the
intersection of Interstate Highways 10 and 215. Santiago Martinez, although he had made other trips to the area probably since 1830, was the first of the group to settle nearby. Before reaching their destination, his wife gave birth to their son in 1838, and took up residence by the Santa Ana River that at one time may have been an Indian inhabitation.[3][iii] This northern New Mexico nuclear family thus became the first non-Indian inhabitants of what was to become known as the Inland Empire.

Both Comandante José Antonio Martínez and Lorenzo Trujillo were key pioneers of the Agua Mansa-San Salvador developments. The parents of Encarnación Martinez de Rowland were Felipe Martin(ez) and (Ana) María Trujillo of Ranchos de Taos,[iv] and Santiago Martinez was “believed to be related to Encarnación. ”[4][v] At least since1834, John Rowland or his wife Encarnación or his in-laws was doing business in California in the trade of New Mexican blankets for California horses and mules.[5][vi]

Padre Martínez wrote a very significant Letter of Transit for John Rowland and family in 1842 when they emigrated from New Mexico to settle in California. John Rowland and William Workman—both having New Mexican wives and having become Catholics and naturalized citizens of the Mexican Republic—were eligible to own property and were among the first Anglos to become landowners in California. Although Padre Antonio José Martinez was never an inhabitant of California, with his Letter of Transit on behalf of John Rowland and his wife Encarnación Rowland de Martínez—likely a relative of the Padre–he nevertheless helped to fuel the development and even population explosion of the territory.

Abiquiú today is a small village or group of villages along NM Hwy 84, southwest of Taos and northwest of Santa Fe-Santa Cruz (Española)/Chimayó and San Juan Pueblo. Throughout the nineteenth century, Abiquiú–a beehive activity–served as a major conduit, if not launching pad for travel between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. It was also the birthplace of a remarkable group of people who greatly influenced the life and growth of California in the two decades between1830 and 1850. It remains a spiritual vortex, a mystic space of great beauty that served as the jumping off point for many trekkers from New Mexico to California.

In Jurassic times, Abiquiú was near Panama—slowly separated by the shift of tectonic plates at the rate of one thumb nail’s width a year. Remnants of prehistoric dinosaurs, common to both Panama and Abiquiú, were discovered in 1947 near Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian Retreat Center located on Las Animas land grant. Over the centuries, Abiquiú has been a welcoming place for different kinds of people. Indians of every stripe and mixture made it their home. After internecine warfare and intermarriage, many had migrated from the four corners areas before the thirteenth century. Indian children captured in warfare among different tribes or with Spanish settlers sometimes grew up in Spanish homes as servants or slaves—a practice not considered controversial at the time–were baptized and brought up as Christian and known as Genízaros. Buffalo soldiers—black men fighting for the North in the Civil War—also have their honored place as residents in Abqiuiú’s history. New Mexico in general, but especially Abiquiú, is famous for its brujas/brujos whose transcendent and spiritual nature is conveyed by folk tales. They cohabit the stark yet supremely beautiful landscape with its hills and high cliffs shaded in textures of yellow, brown, orange, ochre, white and rust that nourish spiritual seekers such as Penitentes, monks (Catholic and Shiite), artists as well as reclusive movie stars. Its high desert lands are peppered with skeletal remains of cattle, often appearing in Georgia O’Keefe paintings.

JULIAN CHAVEZ came from Abiquiu to Los Angeles in 1830 when he was twenty years old—within a year after the first trade caravans left Santa Fe for Los Angeles. The Chavez family lived across the parish church of Santo Tomás where Antonio José Martínez was baptized and where he had married a distant cousin, María de La Luz Martín. Julian’s elder brother was in the military, and young Julian was a teenager when Padre Martinez returned to Abiquiú as widower and young curate to serve as priest-in-charge of Santo Tomá parish.[vii] Julian Chavez was among the sixty men that Antonio Armijo led in 1830 from Abiquiú into California through northern Arizona (the Gila River route) and southern Utah. After almost three months en route, Armijo’s party arrived at San Gabriel Mission where they traded New Mexican blankets for California horses and mules that were already commodities of major exchange.   Chavez eventually settled among the gentle hills along the Río de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los
Angeles de Porciúncula
, twelve miles west of the Mission and a short distance northeast of what is now central city Los Angeles. His residence was at a good location along El Río Porciúncula (the L.A. River), not far from today’s North Broadway bridge. A bronze memorial plaque at the entrance to Elysian Park, also a portal to Chavez Ravine, commemorates the Portolá expedition traveling in 1769 from newly founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá to Monterrey, the capital of Alta California. The Gaspár Portolá expedition on August 2 stopped at a cool resting place on a nearby hill overlooking the river. Fray Juan Crespín, Franciscan chaplain to the expedition noted in his diary the Franciscan feast day of Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles, and named the river in her honor. The small chapel in Assissi and where St. Francis often prayed, met with his religious brothers, and had his “transitus,” i.e., where he died in 1226 was also dedicated to her. Three centuries later, the followers of St. Francis dwarfed the chapel by building a large basilica around it. The little chapel remained within the basilica, and became known as the “small portion” or “La Porciúcula.” Franciscans dedicated the chapel and basilica to Our Lady of the Angels, and celebrate its dedication on August 2.

Mission San Gabriel, established in 1771, is one of the twenty-one Missions founded by Blessed Junípero Serra. Colonists from Sonora, a decade later in 1781, established a settlement twelve miles west of San Gabriel Mission, and named it for the river and called the new village El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúcula, today more commonly known simply as L.A. On August 2 in the bicentennial year of 1976, Archbishop Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles placed a mosaic of the Annunciation—in honor of Queen of the Angels– over the portal of the Plaza Church that is mother church of Los Angeles.

Americans claiming their Lone Star independence from both Mexico and the United States lost the battle of the Alamo to Mexican troops, but won the more important battle at San Jacinto in 1836. In an effort to recuperate revenues from military expenditures in Texas, General Santa Ana decided to levy taxes in New Mexico, and sent Albino Perez to do the job. José María Chavez of Abiquiu, Lieutenant in the Mexican Army and
older brother of Julian Chavez, supported Perez in the failed attempt to impose taxes. Julian Chavez while in his twenties, traveled a few times between California and New Mexico. In 1837, he joined his older brother in the tax-collecting effort, and by 1838 definitively moved to California.


Indians and New Mexican settlers of the north—around Chimayó, NM—rose up against the government of the Republic of Mexico in1837. The rebels beheaded Governor Perez, installed a Pueblo Indian in the Governors’ Palace at Santa Fe, and then singled out the Chavez brothers for execution for collaborating with Albino Perez. Consequently, together with several relatives, the Chavez brothers left their family home in Abiquiu–an adobe building diagonally across the road from Santo Tomás Church that later became residence of Georgia O’Keefe—and made their way out of New Mexico by way of Utah to California. For Julian, it was a return trip, but this time he stayed tending to his property and political career.[6][viii]

In 1838, when he was thirty years old and only after eight years in California, Julian Chavez (1810-1879) became the Interim Mayor of Los Angeles. Chavez served three terms as a member of the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors in 1852, 1858, and 1861. His tract of land in Elysian Park (“Chavez Ravine”) was used as an isolation hospital to treat smallpox principally among Chinese and Mexicans. Besides becoming Vice Mayor of Los Angeles, Julian Chavez also served as Councilman specializing in water rights in 1846 and 1847. The year he became a member of the first group of LA County Board of Supervisors in June 1852, he hosted a July 4th party at downtown Bella Union Hotel. Afterwards, he invited everyone to walk with him in mile-long patriotic parade for a picnic at his vineyard off Riverside Dr. in the northeast part of the city (near today’s Stadium Way on the 5 Freeway).

In1865, Julian was elected to the City Council, and soon afterwards, at the age of 55, got married to Maria Luisa Machado who was less than half his age. Bishop Mora presided at the wedding that took place at the Plaza Church of Our Lady Queen of Angels. Chavez served other terms as councilman in 1870-71, and again in 1873. He also served on the Plaza-Improvement Committee, and worked closely with William Henry Workman, the son of William Workman who had come with John Rowland from Taos to California in the early 1840s.

On July 25, 1879– feast of Santiago (St. James), the patron of Hispanic America so revered in New Mexico, and almost twelve years to the day after the death of his fellow Abiqueño Padre Martínez– Julian Chavez died at the age of 70 in his Chavez Ravine home.[ix]


The first trade caravan had left from Taos to Los Angeles in 1829,[1][x] and Julian Chavez came the following year. Santiago Martinez may also have come into California as early as 1830. Santiago was related to Encarnación Martinez who married John Rowland in 1823. She also had roots in Abiquiú, and was related to Padre Martinez. In mid-August 1832, Santiago Martinez went “to California from New Mexico with fifteen men. Hippolito Espinosa (later a settler of Agua Mansa) is with the party.”[xi] Six years later, at the very beginning of fall in1838 and a month after the usual caravan headed for California,
Santiago Martinez and his pregnant wife Manuelita Renaga were in a caravan of seven people that Lorenzo Trujillo had led from Abiquiu. Manuelita “gave birth to a son (Apolinario) in late November at Resting Springs,[7][xii] an oasis in the high desert near the southern end of Death Valley”[8][xiii] and just over the California boarder from Nevada. Trjuillo’s small caravan arrived in the San Bernardino Valley on December 12, 1838– the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The couple decided to settle on property near the present-day town of Colton. California rancher Antonio Lugo exchanged land for the promise of protection against Indians, and Santiago knew that through Lorenzo Trujillo, he could help recruit Indian fighters from Abiquiú to protect the Lugo San Bernardino Ranch. The young Santiago Martínez family lived on a “bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River near today’s San Bernardino Valley College campus.”[9][xiv] Santiago, his wife and child stayed there, but Lorenzo and the others returned to Abiquiú with the spring caravan. They came back to Rancho San Bernardino in the fall caravan of 1840—this time to settle where Santiago had settled. Hipolitano Espinosa and his family were among the first to settle there, and the settlement came to be called “Politana”[10][xv] in his honor.

The California rendezvous location at Politana (an early settlement of New Mexicans, named for Hipólito Espinosa, at a draw near today’s San Bernardino Valley College) was an important place in the trading scheme of things. Hipólito Espinosa returned with his family to Rancho San Bernardino in the fall of 1840 and settled near Martínez’ place, thus beginning the New Mexican colonization in earnest.
He worked as the chief horse wrangler for the Rancho San Bernardino, the location of his home at the settlement of Politana, and was active in the annual rendezvous near Colton where New Mexican blankets and goods were exchanged for California horses and mules. The business had become so brisk that it exceeded 4,000 animals for the 1842 spring caravan from Los Angeles over the Spanish Trail to the junction of the Santa Fe and Chihuahua Trails in the Abiquiu-Taos-Santa Fe caravan complex.[xvi]

After a relatively brief time living in Politana, there was a territorial dispute between
California landowners Lugo and Bandini. As a result, New Mexican settlers moved nine miles south to the Bandini Donation where a large settlement of their fellow Abiqueños were living by now.[11][xvii]

John Rowland, having come from Taos to La Puente, had returned to Taos to retrieve his wife and family in order to definitively move with him to their new California home. “In the fall of 1842, the Rowlands [John, now with wife and family] returned from Taos to California along with Lorenzo Trujillo and Hipolito Espinosa in a trading caravan under the command of Santiago Martinez likely related to Encarnación.”[12][xviii] It seems that Santiago was a business agent in California trading for Encarnación, and when she joined her husband John Rowland in moving to California, Santiago Martinez helped them move to California. Encarnación later hired Santiago to work as foreman on their ranch where they settled in east La Puente, today’s Walnut-Rowland Heights—near Vejar School.   Santiago moved from Politana, near the juncture of present day San Bernardino-Colton, and moved about sixty miles westward from Agua Mansa to east La Puente, near the location of the first Walnut (Spada) City Hall and Vejar School, Valley Blvd. and Lemon. Their “Martinez Adobe” in La Puente-Walnut, not far from the Roland Heights residence of Encarnación and John Rowland, was shown on older maps until 1970s. Santiago Martinez and family lived in the adobe for about eight years, and moved away when Encarnación died in 1850.[1][xix] Santiago Martinez was the first New Mexican to settle in the area, his name is the first among “Twelve Heads of families” listed in the “List of settlers drawn from the Los Angeles Census of 1844 (located at Politanta).”[13][xx]


The rather mysterious figure of military man Comandante Antonio José Martínez, considered one of the founders of Agua Mansa, was “from the town of La Rosa,” i.e., Santa Rosa Plaza, the first Spanish settlement of Abiquiú named for St. Rose of Lima, Peru and the first saint of the American continent. The ruins of the Santa Rosa Chapel on the outskirts of Abiquiú along NM Highway 84 are still extant. The Comandante and Padre Martínez were both from the Abiquiu Plaza of “La Rosa” founded in 1739 a few miles east of Abiquiú along the Chama River. Either flooding of the Chama River or
Indian depredations from the Indian village upon the nearby hill
(Potsiunge) occasioned the Santa Rosa community to move about four miles
upriver to Santo Tomás that became the main church of Abiquiú.

Comandante Martínez escorted the expedition from the triangular areas of
Taos-Abiquiu-Santa Fe to the rectangular regions of La Puente-Walnut. Comandante José Antonio Martínez made trips back and forth from New Mexico to California, and eventually began “to organize a colony from his friends. Don Lorenzo Trujillo was
the first and the one who most helped him.”[14][xxiii]

At the beginning of the year 1843, the following persons with all their families
left New Mexico: José Antonio Martínez de la Rosa, Hipólito Espinosa… arrived
in the same year in California at the Lugo ranch, but they quickly saw that the
Lugos would not let go of the land promised to [Santiago] Martínez…The were
prepared to return to New Mexico when Don Juan Bandini offered to donate to
them a strip of land…Immediately they moved down to the land which Bandini had
donated to them.[xxiv]

The name of the “Comandante” is a military title, but at this time, there was
not much of an army in New Mexico that already had been part of the Republic of
Mexico for twenty-two years. Southwest historian David Weber refers
to an adventurer called “Don Antonio José Martinez of Taos—perhaps a relative
of Don Severino’s”[15][xxv]
who reconnoitered the San Luis and Arkansas valleys of today’s southern Colorado and was also active in northern New Mexico in 1818 and 1819. Could this be
the same José Antonio Martinez who, after more than twenty years still vigorous but much more experienced, helped colonize southern California with New Mexicans?[16][xxvi]   “Jose Martinez, the comandante, was a leader on the regular caravan to Los Angeles, so he habitually traveled without a family…[and] was killed by Indians…”[17][xxvii]


Lorenzo was a significant figure in the settlement of almost 150 families from Abiquiu who settled in the Agua Mansa-San Salvador area during the decade of 1840-1850. He married María Dolores Archuleta Martin, and they had seven children. His own family, as well as the Rowland-Workman party, was in the fall caravan of 1841 that Lorenzo Trujillo led from Abiquiú to Rancho San Bernardino. Traveler from Tennessee Benjamin Davis Wilson contracted Lorenzo’s four sons (Tedoro, Esquipulas, Doroteo, and Julian ) to herd a flock of sheep over the 1200-mile route.[xxviii] This was the principal food source for the party and for another group that joined up with them on the way to California. Trujillo’s daughter Matilde married a Sepulveda who owned land in the area of Pasadena and Altadena[18][xxix] where B.D. Wilson later resided and took up the timber industry. Mt Wilson is named for him, and he later became a governor of California. For all of Trujillo’s contributions to the area, including helping to organize regular Catholic Church services in the area, Lorenzo Trujillo is one of the Founder of Agua Mansa AKA San Salvador on the west side of Santa Ana River tributary. His homestead, Plaza Trujillo, is on the eastside of that same tributary where the Agua Mansa Cemetery is located, and a replica of the San Salvador church stands on the hillcrest.

Lorenzo Trujillo was a Genízaro (Hispanicized Indian) orphan, probably of Comanche
origin–a likely victim of children raids between nomadic peoples and Spanish
settlers. Estevan Trujillo and his wife Juliana Martin-Serrano adopted him, and presented him for baptism at the church of Santo Tomás on August 12, 1794– the same church where his fellow Abiqueño Antonio José Martinez was baptized a year and a half earlier. Lorenzo’s adopting parents were also his godparents—not something usual. His stepmother adopting him was one of the large and well-connected Martin-Serrano clan of Abiquiú. Lorenzo took his surname Trujillo from Juliana’s husband, his stepfather
Estevan. Lorenzo Trujillo gained fame as a caravan leader between New Mexico and California. The so-called Rowland-Workman treks of 1841 and 1842 are better known than his earlier treks to Los Angeles in 1838 when he brought Santiago Martinez as well as his wife and son to California. These latter treks introduced such an interesting array of folks from New Mexico to California. The 1841 list included an Episcopal bishop, an engineer, a Taos trapper originally from Tennessee who would become Mayor of Los Angeles and have a mountain named after him.[1][xxx]

For our purposes, however, John Rowland—for whom Roland Heights is named—was the most interesting of the 1841 trek, and his wife Encarnación Martinez de Rowland was the most interesting of the1842 trek.


Of all these New Mexican transplants to southern California, Encarnación Martínez of Taos was the most significant person connected to Padre Martinez. Besides a likely kinship, the connection was two-fold: the marriage he helped to arrange between her and John Rowland, and the Letter of Transit that the Padre wrote in 1842, eighteen years after
their marriage. It is not only possible that the priest and Rowland’s wife were related—both Martinez people from Taos. However, “it is not known [for sure]
how the priest of Taos was related to Doña María de la Encarnación Martínez de
Rowland.”[xxxi] Her parents were living in Ranchos de Taos where San Francisco Church is located,[19][xxxii] about seven miles south of the Taos Plaza where are located the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the residence of Padre Martinez.

After his ordination and before being assigned to his first parish in Tomé, south of
Albuquerque, Padre Martinez lived with his parents in Taos while recuperating
form ill health. Ordained less than three years, Padre Martinez aided the aged and infirm Franciscan priest of San Geronimo with Masses and other sacramental functions at the asistencia of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in the Taos Plaza, not yet a separate parish.

John Rowland had moved to Taos from Franklin, Missouri in 1823. Padre Martinez helped to arrange the marriage between Encarnación and John Rowland in 1825. Through the marriage, John Rowland chose to become a Catholic and become a naturalized Mexican citizen. Both were necessary in order for John Rowland to have the right to own property[20][xxxiii] in either New Mexico or later in California.   Encarnación was already a property owner.   Roland was a business partner of
William Workman,[xxxiv] and their endeavors included fur trapping, general merchandise, timber and whiskey.

When Texas tried to take over New Mexico in the mid-1830s, Rowland and Workman
declared their sympathy with the Texas cause in spite of their Mexican
citizenship. New Mexico Governor Armijo denounced them, and they decided to flee to California. In preparation for his 1841 trip to California, Rowland had asked U.S. Consul Manuel Alvarez living in Santa Fe for a letter of transit for his journey. Alvarez complied, and Rowland made the trip to California in 1841 with William Workman, but without his wife and family. Lorenzo Trujillo led the caravan with a variety of twenty-three Americans, but not family members of William Workman. The expedition left New Mexico in September 1841, and arrived at La Puente Rancho in California on November 5 of the same year.

For the year 1840-1841, Padre Martinez was on a sabbatical in Durango, and not available to write a letter of transit for John Rowland’s first trip to California. It may not have even occurred to Rowland to ask for a letter from his parish priest Padre Martínez, Rowland, a naturalized Mexican citizen through his marriage to Encarnación Martínez, knew he would need a Document of Transfer, and asked for one from Manuel Alvarez living in Santa Fe, American Consul and an employee of the U.S. Government. Alvarez wrote the letter of transit for safe passage on August 11, 1841, and addressed it to the Governor Juan B. Alvarado living in Monterey, then the capital of Upper California still part of the Mexican Republic.[21][xxxv]

Upon arrival to California, Rowland and Workman traveled to the local political official in Los Angeles, and an official informed him that lands were to be obtained through the Governor of California with a recommendation of the Padre in whose area the lands were sought.

Excerpt of letter from Consul Manuel Alvarez

I take the liberty of recommending to you Mr. John Rowland, native of the United States of America, naturalized citizen and resident of this jurisdiction [of New Mexico], since the year 1823. I have associated with him since the early years of his settling here, and I have known him very well as an industrious and peaceful man, respected in this country.


The object of his journey to your district is, besides that of spreading the use of the goods of his country, that of seeking goods in yours; it presents–as is rumored–greater advantages so that he may transport himself and his numerous family to your district.


I shall thank you for whatever favor you may deem worthy to extend to Mr. Rowland. If ever you will require my services in this country [New Mexico – a Deputación of the Republic of Mexico], you may be sure that I shall have the greatest pleasure in affording all that may make it pleasant for you.


The letter of Avarez was useful, but had its limits. More was needed than political permissions and persuasions. John Rowland in the late fall of 1841 likely presented his own letter to Governor Alvarado requesting a tract of land in “a vacant place at La Puente.”[1][xxxvi], an area that was formerly a part of Mission of San Gabriel. After his long journey of two months, Roland finally got around to presenting his credential to Padre Tomás Estenaga of San Gabriel Mission. Padre Tomás Elenerio de Estenaga received Rowland courteously, but made no lands available to him or William Workman. The Mission owned large swaths of land in southern California, and had much to say about who might inhabit and come to own property in the area. The Catholic Church was still a very powerful institution in this northern frontier of the former Spanish Kingdom that was now the independent Republic of Mexico. Although Rowland’s letter was not addressed to him, the priest was opposed to what it proposed.

Nevertheless, Governor Juan Batista Alvarado in Monterrey expressed his approval for the La Puente Land Grant to Rowland, Father Narcisio Durán, Franciscan President
of the Missions and holding the “line”, countered in a letter to John Rowland dated January 14, 1842. Padre Durán appealed to an 1835 law of the Mexican Supreme Congress, and formalized his objection in a letter to the Minister of the Interior and Public Instruction.

I solemnly protest in the name of the neophytes of the Mission of San Gabriel, once, twice, and three times as may be customary by law, against the sale or alienation of said Rancho of La Puente, as well as against the transfers of many other pieces of land which this territorial government has effected with flagrant wrong and prejudice to the poor neophytes…I declare all such sales or transfers null…particularly not to said Juan Roldan [sic]…[22][xxxvii]


Political advocates for Rowland included Prefect Santiago Arguello in Los Angeles and
José L. Sepúlveda, Second Justice of the Peace of Los Angeles who wrote on
February 26, 1842 that the applicant has the necessary requisites to be
favored. On the same date, Fr. Estenaga again formalized his objection:

The land of La Puente belongs to this Community of San Gabriel that occupies it with more than five hundred head of large cattle. In no manner does this community consent that the land should be alienated since it is the on place that the Mission has for sowing and to support its cattle.[23][xxxviii]


Some jockeying among church and state officials continued, each trying to nullify the actions of the other. On March 9, 1842, Governor Alvarado issued another communication that the La Puente Land Grant be held “firm and valid [and] be registered in the proper book”[24][xxxix] so long as Rowland build a house on it and inhabit it within a year. By late-summer 1842, John Rowland returned to Taos to retrieve his wife Encarnación Martínez and their family in order to settle in east La Puente (present day-Walnut-Rowland Heights). Rowland may have been apprehensive of further potential complications and objections from church people regarding his land grant. Now realizing the potential importance of a document from a priest to a priest, and wanting to
fortify his secular documentations, he requested a letter of transit from Padre Antonio
José Martinez with the intention of presenting it to the pastor of San Gabriel
Mission and his superiors.

In spite of Padre Martinez’ Mexican nationalism and Governor Amijos’s denunciation of John Rowland and William Workman for their Texas sympathies against New Mexico, Padre Martinez not only complied with the request for a letter, but penned a glowing recommendation. The Padre had known Rowland the businessman since his arrival in Taos in 1823, and in 1825 helped the Anglo bridegroom prepare to marry his own relative Encarnación Martinez. The letter from Padre Martínez of Taos dated September 3, 1842 graciously and effusively, yet precisely, bore witness that over the past eighteen years that John Rowland was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, besides being spouse of his relative.[25][xl]

Padre Martínez Letter of Transit for John Rowland


The Presbyter, Don Antonio José Martínez, pastor of Taos, Department of New Mexico, hereby certifies, in the most ample form fixed by law, that Don Juan Rowland, a foreigner from the United States of North America, married to Doña María de la Encarnación Martinez, a Mexican, and naturalized in this Republic, and hence a Mexican Citizen like his wife, is a Catholic as is all his family.


All of this is shown in the parish books of this parish of which I am in charge: that he is accustomed to partake of the Holy Sacrament, that he contributes to the support of the church, that he faithfully and religiously obeys the laws and enforces them when holding a position of authority. Yet with a degree of charity that day by day has been a greater credit to him, it is also known to me that in his social life he is held in the highest esteem as an honored citizen faithful to the state and to the Government, and respects the laws. He is quiet and pacific in all his acts, meeting the duties and responsibilities that are his. He complies with his promises and agreements in his attitude toward the church, and likewise strictly when dealing with others. He is well received by the inhabitants of this vicinity, and highly esteemed by the authorities. He has never been accused or even suspected of violating the laws for the reason that he never gave cause. In short, therefore, he has always been a man of fine deportment, his qualities being as set forth.

This letter of transit from Padre Martinez helped John Rowland and his family not only settle into their new homeland of California, but also to prosper. The compatriots of Encarnación Martínez de Rowland who were living in Politana-Agua Mansa-San Salvador also continued to prosper. In 1843, in exchange for protection from marauders, Californian-Mexican Ranchero Don Antonio María Lugo gave 2,200 acres of his land to the New Mexican settlers who had a reputation of being experienced Indian fighters.
The 1843 settlers occupied the location just south of Colton on the northwest side of the Santa Ana River.
By 1844, there were seventy-three New Mexican families living at Politana. However, within a year, Politanta was abandoned when Juan Bandini gave the New Mexican colonizers more land at Agua Mansa. Between 1844-45, the two settlements merged into one. The New Mexican colonists completed a move from Politana on the Lugo rancho to La Placita de los Trujillos on the Bandini Donation portion of Rancho Jurupa located on the southeast side of the Santa Ana River. Homes were built around
a small plaza with an enramada (brush-covered altar) in the center.
In the fall of 1845, another contingent of colonists arrived from New
Mexico and settled along the northwest bank of the river (south of the Lugo
rancho) at a community called Agua Mansa.
Both communities continued to meet their duty of opposing Indian raiders
and renegade white marauders. The two settlements were commonly referred to as one pueblo of San Salvador, the name of the church at Trujillo Plaza. [26][xli]

The California-New Mexico connection vigorously continued until the middle of the
nineteenth century. The arrival of Juan Ignacio Martínez–Encarnación’s brother and John Rowland’s brother-in-law–at Los Angeles in December 1847 was a token of the continued development of that connection.
Francisco Estevan Vigil led the New Mexican caravan of two hundred and
twelve travelers including sixty boys on an already well-established trade
route that departed from New Mexico and arrived in California. The caravan of 150 mules, arriving with New Mexican blankets and other goods, was ready by April 1848 to depart California with horses and mules for the trip back to New Mexico.[27][xlii]
However, by then, the 1848 California Gold Rush began to deplete the southern
California New Mexican colony since several young men left to try out their luck at
striking it rich in northern California–but to no avail.

John Rowland eventually gained clear title to his land, the first land grant given
to an American in California.[28][xliii] William Workman was to share title, dividing the land grant into east and west La Puente.[xliv]  

Padre Martinez with his letter of transit on behalf of Rowland was definitely instrumental in the land development of southern California. Both John Rowland and William Workman took possession of the land, and built their homes not far from each other. William Workman built his family home in what is now the City of Industry on Julian Road (Hispanicized William) off Hacienda Blvd. John Rowland in set up his ranch near what became Rowland Heights.[29][xlv] The La Puente Rancho that Roland and Workman divided between themselves has been further sub-divided into a myriad of independent southern California communities from Monrovia to Whittier.

The New Mexico colonization had peaked. Enlisted as an instrument of manifest destiny during the U.S.-Mexican War, the Mormon Battalion was born. Brigham Young wanted to colonize the Pacific Coast, and favored purchase of the Chino Rancho. Emigrants left Salt Lake for California on March 14, 1851, and arrived at Cajon pass on June 11.In 1851, almost on cue at the very middle of the nineteenth century, Mormons came into San Bernardino as a new wave of immigrants, an brought their own style and heritage.
Within a short time, almost a thousand Mormons arrived, and by the fall,
they had purchased the Rancho San Bernardino from the Lugo family on credit for
$77,550.[30][xlvi] The purchase included 75 head of cattle for food and eight leagues of land where they would grow wheat on land where formerly sheep and cattle grazed. In their common attempt to avoid a spurt of Indian depredations, Mormons and Agua Mansa settlers lived together for a brief time during 1852 in the High Lands of San Bernardino. By 1853, the Mormons themselves had scattered, and a new immigration era had begun.

Encarnación Martinez de Rowland, after twenty-six years of marriage to John Rowland and the birth of ten children, died towards on November 21, 1851. Soon after her death,
Santiago Martinez moved back to Taos where his son Daniel was born. Four of the Rowland children, ranged in age from 8 to 19, remained in John’s care. Charlotte Grey, a young widow, was among the first American settlers that came from back east to the San Gabriel Valley in that year. She lived in a squatters’ village in the area of El Monte, and one day traveled to John Rowland’s portion of Rancho de La Puente to buy fruits and vegetables.[31][xlvii] In the summer of 1852, romance bloomed
and John and Charlotte got married in the fall of 1852, a year after the death
of his New Mexican wife. Encarnación was buried in the private cemetery at the Workman hacienda off Hacienda Blvd. near Hacienda Heights in the City of Industry that is adjacent to La Puente. The small cemetery chapel is a mausoleum that is the finally resting place for so many women from Taos, New Mexico. An era had come to a close, and—with the second marriage of John Rowland to Charlotte Gray–a new era began.




Antonio Rivera – Colorado

Antecedents of that pattern of migration from Baja California or New Mexico to California go back before the founding of the United States. In 1765, a Ute Indian sold an ingot of silver to a blacksmith in Abiquiú, the small village northeast of Santa Fe that was to play such an important part in the New Mexico-California connection. This led Juan Maria Antonio Rivera to take some Spaniards to explore western Colorado that at the time was part of New Mexico, but they soon returned to Santa Fe without discovery of the precious metal. Governor Tomás Velez de Cacpuchín instructed Rivera to return and explore the region once again—this time not for precious metal, but to reconnoiter the area for the possible presence of other Europeans. He found none, and again returned home after leaving a large inscribed cross near what became Moab, Utah.

Gaspár de Portolá  

In 1769, the year San Diego Mission was founded, Gaspar de Portolá with an expedition that included Franciscan clergy, made his way from Baja California north to
Monterey. One of the stops was near today’s entrance into Elysian Park along North Broadway in Los Angeles where a river flowed from the area of San Fernando to the San Pedro Harbor. The date was August 2, the Franciscan feast of the “Porciúncula,”
named for the small chapel in Assisi where St. Francis used to like to
pray. His transitus (death) in the thirteenth century took place in that
former Benedictine oratory, and his followers in the sixteenth century built a
large Basilica around that oratorio, dedicating it to Nuestra Señora
Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúcula
, Our Lady Queen of
Angels. Fray Juan Crespi of the Portolá expedition made an entry into his diary on August 2, 1769, and called the river Río Porciúncula in honor of that Franciscan feast.
The “L.A. River,” twelve miles west of San Gabriel, received its name
twelve years before the City of Los Angeles was founded in 1781 as an asistencia of the San Gabriel Mission. This mother mission of Los Angeles, founded in 1771 two years after San Diego Mission, was the fourth in the chain of twenty-one missions of Alta California, most of them by the sainted Junípero Serra.

Juan Bautista de Anza and Friar Francisco Garces

In 1774, Captain Juan Bautista De Anza led his first military expedition from Tubac, Mexico to Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel. It was the first overland route to safely supply the mission outposts in Alta California. Friar Francisco Garces accompanied the expedition that traversed the desert to the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and emerged on the other side. The expedition turned north, and forded the Santa Ana River at Riverside where Father Garces celebrated the first Mass in the region on the
first day of spring—March 21, 1774. [Cf. John DeGano, Archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino, “History of the People of the Diocese of San Bernardino,” in 2003 Diocesan Directory, p. 5.]

Exactly two years later, in early 1776, Father Garces again came into the area—this time from a northern route– and recorded his sighting of the San Bernardino Valley then called the San Jose Valley. Fray Garces successfully traveled from Mission San Gabriel through the California Gulf to Hopi villages in Arizona. His journey opened the road from west to east, enabling Friars Anastacio Domiguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante to travel. Mexican Friar Anastacio Dominguez was appointed in 1775 as canonical visitor to the missions of New Mexico. His task was to evaluate the clergy and inspect the condition of the archives in Santa Fe, mostly destroyed in the 1680 Indian uprising. [Thomas G. Alexander in Web <Utah History to Go>.]   Spanish-born Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante who had worked at Zuni Pueblo was already in Santa Fe. NM Governor Fermin de Mendinueta encouraged both of them to explore territories to the west
to find out if any other Europeans were there. They began a journey toward the Pacific on July 4, 1776, but a Comanche attack gave them second thoughts.   Just as Friars Dominguez and Escalante were about to scuttle their plan to transverse an overland route to Monterey in Alta California, they learned of Fray Garces’ successful trek. This spurred them on, and–with the full support of Governor Mendinuet– they recruited help from El Paso, southern Colrado and Utah. With further help of Genízaro guides from Abiquiú and the Indian boy Joaquin from Laguna, they again took up their expedition from New Mexico to California.

Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, a retired military officer living in Santa Fe, served as map-maker marking the latitudes of their travels and suggesting future presidio
locations. However, because of a snowstorm in the Grand Canyon, the explorers were forced to cross the Colorado River by Lake Powell’s Padre Bay. After traveling over 1700 miles, they returned to Santa Fe on January 2, 1777. Nevertheless, they did
become the first white men to explore the magnificent Arizona canyon.

Capitan José Romero

After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, trade between the United States and
New Mexico–now no longer part of the Kingdom of Spain, but belonging to the
Republic of Mexico–freely flowed between St. Louis and Santa Fe. Trails are customarily initiated by prehistoric animals and then traversed by ancient hunters and gatherers. They are later tamed by people interested in trade routes for missionary and/or military use as well as for commercial purposes.


This was the roadway through Mexico-Durango-Chihuahua-Santa Fe (including
Abiquiú-Taos) that was used to transport church, military, and household goods
to and from its various points. When this camino extended into California, it morphed into what John C. Fremont called the “Spanish Trail.” Capitan José Romero, born near San Francisco, was a cavalry captain in command of the Presidio of Tucson.  He followed his own route making three journeys from Arisze in the Sonora Desert and Tucson to San Gabriel Alta California from 1823 to 1826, and is considered one of the first white men to explore the desert area of the Agua Caliente tribe, present day Palm Springs. Not too much is known about his personal life or background, but his travels are well chronicled in his dairies. [Cf. Romero, Expeditions-Dairies and Accounts: 1823-1826, edited by Lowell John Bean and Wiliam Marvin Mason, Palm Springs Desert Museum, c. 1962, pp. 117.]

When emperor Iurbide assumed political control in Mexico, he sent Rev. Agustín
Fernandez de San Vicente, a canon of Durango, to inspect California in order to
ascertain the extent of foreign activities in California as well as the loyalty
of the Californians. By 1822,
Russians had a presence in Fort Ross, and Mexico had great interest to open up
an inland route from California to Sonora. San Bernardino was recognized as a point of departure for
such a route to Tucson, and it was also on the route from San Gabriel to the
Colorado River. Besides opening up commerce, the route would also open up the possibilities for evangelization. Emperor Iturbide’s Minister of Relations through Governor Sola requested Captain Jose Romero to invent a mail route between the points, and to take a party of sixty to map it by way of the lower Colorado River.
Romero began the tasks in September 1822, and continued until 1826. Jedediah Smith, a tall mountain man over six feet, trekker and author of Commerce of the Prairies, traversed the southwest. In his travels, he connected many regions including Taos and Mission San Gabriel where, by his own testimony, the Padres twice receive him well, in 1826 and again in 1827. He died young at the age of 32 after an altercation, it is said, with Comanche Indians.


[i] Cf., John De Gano, Diocesn Archivist, “History of the People of the Diocese of San Bernardino,” 2003 Diocesan Directory, 25th Anniversary Edition, p. 5. Captain Juan Bautista De Anza led a military expedition from Tubac, Mexico to Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel in 1774. The purpose was to open up an overland route to supply missionary outposts in Alta California. (Franciscans from New Mexico had been trying to do the same thing, but got only as far as Arizona.) At Riverside, De Anza forded the Santa
Ana River, and Father Garces celebrated the first Mass on the first day of spring. Exactly two years after his first encounter with the region. De Anza again came through San Bernardino—this time coming from the north. In 1842, Governor José Figueroa secularized the missions, and in that same year, a contingent from Abiquiu, New Mexico settled along the Santa Ana River near present day Colton.

[ii] Although the place in Elysian Park is much better known as Chavez Ravine, named for Julian Chavez of Abiquiú, some residents of the hilly area have preferred to
call it Palo Verde for the name given it in a 1912 map of residential tract
#12.   Tom Marmolejo, a native of Palo Verde, has written his memories of his boyhood neighborhood, and objects to the identification of his home territory with the name of Chavez Ravine that he does not consider part of his territory of “Tract 12.”

[iii] Soon after Hipolito Espinosa and his family joined them, their place became known as “Politana”—located on “Bunker Hill” across from the present day location of San
Bernardino College near the City of Colton and the intersection of Interstates 10 and 210.

[iv] Rowland, Donald E., John Rowland and William Workman: Southern California Pioneers of 1841, Historical Society of Southern California, 200 E. Ave. 43, L. A. 90031. [(323) 222-0546; Don (& Jean) Rowland – Camarillo, CA 93010 (805) 482-8129, p. 20.
Don Rowland mentions that Encarnación’s father Felipe Martinez had a
business relationship with John Rowland, and may have been the one who
introduced the couple to each other.

[v] Ibid. p. 74.

[vi] Ibid., p. 27. José Sepuveda sold six horses to Encarnación and her mother Ana María
(Trujillo), and the bill of sale was sent from La Puente, CA to Ranchos de Taos.


[vii ] Juan Chavez may have been of altar server age, and so Miguel Gallegos also living in Abiquiu at the time, and who later went to the Padre’s elementary school in Taos, then to his minor seminary, studied in Durango and was ordained a priest. After an altercation with the American occupation, Gallegos served as New Mexico’s first congressman.

[viii] His brother Lt. José María Chavez went continued with trips between New Mexico and California. Lt. José María Chavez went to jail the following year for his part in the Battle of San Buenaventura, California. After serving a short prison sentence, José returned to New Mexico to continue trading within the Ute territory into the 1850s.

[ix] Online Document: “County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors: Julian Chavez – 1852, 1858, 1861.”

[x] Bruce Harley, Ph. D., “CHRONOLOGY: The Founding of Agua Mansa – First Settlement East of Mission San Gabriel,” Nuestras Raíces – Winter 2002, Vol. 14, No. 4,
Genealogical Society of Hispanic America, pp. 144, 147.

[xi] Spanish Trail Website: “Expedition Chronology between NM and CA. The site features names and dates and events that consist of several persons making many
exchanges of California horses and mules (some allegedly by theft) for New
Mexico blankets and “serapes.”

[xii] Lorenzo Trujillo had originally named this place Archuleta Springs in honor of his own wife Dolores Archuleta.

[xiii] Harley, Archivist, Diocese of San Bernardino, The Story of Agua Mansa: Its
Settlement, Churches and People—First Community in San Bernardino Valley,
, Diocese of San Bernardino Archives, 1998, pp. 111, p. 12.

[xiv] Harley, From New Mexico to California: San Bernardino Valley’s First Settlers at Agua Mansa, San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3,4 – 2000; 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, CA 92374-4560, p.5. This place was located on
Bunker Hill by the Santa Ana River at the juncture of Interstates 215 and 15. The property included what is today the Greek Orthodox of St. Elias the Prophet.

[xv] Harley, compiler and Archivist, Diocese of San Bernardino, Mission San Gabriel Expands Eastward: 1819-1834, Readings in Diocesan Heritage – Vol. II, August
1989, p. 7. This was the supposed location of a prior Indian settlement that Padre Dumetz had visited. He was one of the very last friars who walked with Padre Junípero Serra. Spanish priest Father Juan Cabarellía claimed that Padre Dumetz celebrated Mass there on the feast of St. Bernardine on May 20, 1810, and for that reason this area was
called San Bernardino. Historian George W. Beattie finds that plausible, but Bruce Harley–historian and former archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino–vigorously disputed it.

[xvi] Cf. Harley, opera omnia, passim.

[xvii] So many northern New Mexicans settled in historic area of Agua Mansa-San Salvador in the middle of the nineteenth century.   It is south of the town of Colton, along the 10 Interstate Freeway between Rancho Ave. exit and the 215 Freeway that follows
the Santa Ana River. It is just behind (to the south of) a very visible landmark: the lone cement hill called Stover Mountain, named for Isaac Stover, a Taos trapper who came to Los Angeles in 1837 and later settled in the Agua Mansa area. Since Word War I until recent years, Stover Mountain has been capped with an easily seen American flag. A bear killed Stover at an advanced age in the mountains of San Bernardino.


[xviii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 74. Underscore – my emphasis.

[xix] Interview with June Wentworth member of City of Walnut Planning Commission, in August 2002 [Phone: (909) 595-4706]. She informed me that 1) Santiago was the name of resident of the (now razed) Martinez Adobe in Walnut; 2) that he was a relative of Encarnación Martinez; and 3) that Encarnación employed and invited him to live
nearby. She also confirmed that the site of the (Santiago) Martinez Adobe used to be on property of Vejar School located in that part of La Puente that later became the city of
Walnut. It is near the original Walnut City Hall at the intersection of Lemon Ave. and Valley Blvd., twenty-six miles east of central city Los Angeles. In the early 1960s, it was razed to make room for Vejar Elementary School at 20222 W. Vejar Rd. in Walnut, CA 91789 [(909) 595-1261]. Ray Mc Mullen of Human Resources of Walnut School District, [(909) 595-1261], informed me that farmer Randy Bennet had painted an amateur picture of that [Santiago Martinez] adobe upon a hill. School secretary Yadira
[(909) 594-1434] was well disposed to find out if the painting of the Martinez Adobe was still around.

[xx] Joyce Carter Vickery, Defending Eden, Department of History, University of
California, Riverside, and the Riverside Museum Press; Riverside, California,
1977, p. 120, total pp. 130.

From Beattie and Beattie, Heritage of the Valley, p. 60. Other names include Feliciana Valdez “(widow of Apolnio (sic) Espinosa),” Lorenzo Trujillo, and Luis Stover
(Isaac Stover) for whom the lone cement mountain off Hwy 10 and Rancho Rd. just
south of Colton is named. The Agua Mansa-San Salvador settlement is just behind that landmark.

[xxi] Carter Vickery, op. cit., Re: “La Rosa”- pp.116 (Spanish) and118 (English).

[xxii] The original Spanish settlement of Abiquiú was established1739-1740.

[32]. [xxiii] Ibid., p. 118 where author records an oral tradition of “La Placita Story from the Patterson file as told to Miguel Alvarado by an original pioneer, probably a Martínez….As can be seen there are several discrepancies in this version that can be attribute to confused memories as well as family loyalty.”– Joyce Carter Vickery

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] David Weber, On the Edge of the Empire: The Taos Hacienda of los Martínez, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, c. 1996, pp. 120, p. 44. Weber cites as his source A. B. Tomas, “Documents…Northern Frontier, 1818-1819,” in New Mexico Historical Review for April 1929: pp. 152, 158 and 159.

[xxvi] José Antonio Martínez, the name as the Comandante of Agua Mansa, was also the name of the maternal grandfather of my maternal grandfather Ricardo Garcia whom we called Tito. I have no proof that the namesakes were the same person or even related. My grandfather Tito was born in 1881 at Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos, and that makes it possible the two were contemporaries. Uncles of Padre Martinez settled Arroyo Hondo in 1804 by about the same time that Severino Martínez, the Padre’s father, was establishing his homestead in Taos. The timing works out so that he could have been either one or the other José Antonio Martínez, or both–the Colorado adventurer of 1819, or the experienced comandante who helped settle Agua Mansa, but never resided there. ¡Sabrá Dios!

Ricardo’s wife, my maternal grandmother whom we called Tita, was Gaudalupe Gonzales, and her mother was also a Martínez. By family lore, we have a Padre
Martinez connection through my mother’s side of the family.

[xxvii] Harley, compiler, “The Agua Mansa Story: A collection of papers compiled on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the settlement of Agua Mansa,”
San Bernardino County Museum Association QUARTERLY, Vol. 31 (1), Winter 1991, p. 19.

[xxviii] Harley, CHRONOLOGY, op. cit., p. 145.

[xxix] However, upon the untimely death of her elderly husband, his lands had already been distributed to other members of the family, and Matilde received no
inheritance. However, she later married again to a landed person, and inherited
his land.

[xxx] Carter Vickery, op. cit., pp. 119-120. Lorenzo Trujillo was wagon master for
the trek, and its real leader. Episcopal Bishop James D. Mead was listed as a physician in the manifest of twenty-six persons and things that John Rowland presented to Justice of the Peace Jose Dominguez in Los Angeles upon the groups arrival on November 5,
1841. Only William Workman and another brought their families on this trip. John Rowland would return to NM the following year to bring back his family.

Benjamin Davis Wilson of Tennessee was a fur trapper in NM who in 1841 settled in Agua Mansa and married into the Californio Yorba family. Wilson purchased half of his land from Bandini, and then moved to Pasadena, and later became Mayor of Los Angeles in 1851. Mt. Wilson was named after him. Isaac Givens was an engineer who kept a journal of the trek (at UC Berkeley), and made a map of the La Puente land that was a cattle station for the San Gabriel Mission. It later became the Roland-Workman land grant, stretching east to west from the City of Industry and Hacienda Heights to Roland Heights-Walnut.

[xxxi] Rowland, op.cit., p. 74.

[xxxii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 27 refers to a bill of sale dated April 25, 1834 for six white horses that took place at La Puente, California—a championship horse-cattle ranch and grounds for San Gabriel Mission. Ignacio Martinez bought the horses from José Sepulveda for Encanación Martinez and for Rafael Martinez, and addressed the bill of sale in care of Encarnación’s mother Ana María Trujillo at Ranchos.

[33][xxxiii] In an effort to populate the territory, the Mexican Congress passed a law on
August 18, 1824 that eleven square leagues of land were to be given to any good
[Mexican] citizen or any foreigner who accepted Mexican citizenship and the
Catholic faith (religion). One league is equivalent to 4,438 acres.

[xxxiv] John Rowland and William Workman became successful merchants in Taos. He a general merchandise store specializing in furs and pelts. They personally trapped them or more often bought from the Indians or French Canadian trappers or Yankee mountain men. However, already by 1826, the beaver fur trade was already beginning to fade as beaver hats were becoming less fashionable in Europe. Rowland began to look at other interests in California, such as otter fur, and also began to diversify his business operations in Taos. He operated a flourmill, cut lumber, and made a local brew of whiskey. The distillery or Viñatera was about three miles up the little Rio
Grande Canyon, and was in the care of Pedro Antonio Gallegos. Northern neighbor and fellow entrepreneur Simon Turley also operated a multipurpose timber mill. He would later perfect the brew as “Taos Lightning” and sell it to thirsty trappers, mountain men,
Pueblo Indians, and descendants of the Spanish settlers of the area.

[xxxv] Letter of Credential for John Rowland from Consul Manuel Alvarez of Santa Fe, addressed to the Governor of Upper California, and dated August 11, 1841, quoted in
Donald E. Rowland, op cit., pp. 61-62.

[xxxvi] Ibid., p. 63.

[xxxvii] Ibid., p. 69.

[xxxviii] Ibid., p. 65.

[xxxix] Ibid., p. 66.

[xl] Ibid., p. 73.
Quoted from Mrs. Lillian Dibble, granddaughter of John Rowland who owned
the original letter written in Spanish that was first privately printed in Romance
of La Puente
, pp. 13-14. James M. Sheridan, Attorney and Counselor at law made first translation into English.

[xli] Cf. Harley, opera citata, passim.

[xlii] Spanish Trail Assocition, op. cit.

[xliii] When Pio Pico succeeded as the last Mexican Governor of California, John Rowland and William Workman on June 22, 1845 confirmed their land grants that they had possessed for three years. After the American occupation of California in 1846, a question about legitimate ownership was raised. The American government wanted to lay claim to ownership of the land, but on October 3, 1852, Rowland and Workman filed a petition to the U.S. Land Commission. Two years later, on April 14, 1854, the
Land Commission allowed the claim to stand. The U.S. Supreme Court ratified that decision, giving patent rights to the Rancho La Puente on April 19, 1857.

[xliv] The John Rowland homestead was in Rowland Heights, and the William Workman homestead was in today’s city of Industry. A non-exclusive list of the communities that today make up this area of the La Puente land grant includes what are now the areas of Monrovia, Covina, West Covina, Temple City, Walnut,
Rowland Heights, La Puente, Valinda, La Puente, City of Industry Hacienda
Heights, and Whittier.

[xlv] Address of original John Rowland homestead: 18800 E. Railroad – Roland Heights, CA 91748.

[xlvi] Cf. <>



[xlvii] Rowland,
op. cit., p. 130.


Blog about Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos. When he died, his peers in the USA Territorial Assembly for NM wrote on his epitaph, "La Honra de Su País" – The Honor of His Homeland. The last decade of his life–in the years following the American occupation– was clouded by controversy with his new bishop. Fray Angelioc Chavez in My Penitente Land called him "New Mexico's greatest son." This blog is dedicated to the life and legacy of this priest, educator, printer-publisher, lawyer-politician, rancher, patriot.