In the second century, St. Polycarp, grand-disciple of St. John the Evangelist, wrote with sadness to the people of Philippi that St. Paul had evangelized and to whom he had written a beautiful letter.  The sadness was about a priest, and his wife, who had “hung up his collar” before there was such a thing as clerical dress.

Here is what Polycarp says:
“I am greatly saddened on account of Valens who at one time was presbyter among you…be chaste and honest…avoid avarice…greed….I am deeply sorry for Valens and for his wife; may the Lord grant them true repentence.”
It seems that dishonesty, unchastity, avarice and greed were the public sins of this former presbyter, and it seems that he walked away from ministry as opposed to being asked to leave.  The following sentence is instructive and an example for us on how to treat “fallen” or wayward priests.  
“…invite them back as frail members who have gone astray, so that the entire body of which you are a part will be saved.”
We are still connected to each other in and through the Body of Christ, even if one or another goes astray—even a priest!  They are not to be cast out, but invited back so that all of us can be saved.  Powerful ecclesiology and soteriology, fancy words for the study of the Church and of Salvation!
(Quoted from the Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. IV, Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, pp. 327-28)


After such a long hiatus, I write this post on October 4, the feast of St. Francis who is patron of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Last week I was in Taos for a meeting with Vicente Martínez and Robert Torrez, former state historian of New Mexico.  We are collaborating on a publication-project about the life and legacy of Padre Martinez, Cura de Taos.  It was my joy to remain in Taos for a week, and concelebrate the 6 AM Mass at San Geronimo Pueblo on occasion of their patron feast of St. Jerome, September 30.  

In the August 2011 issue of People of God, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan addressed the scandal that comes from “prominent priests who have turned out to have serious difficulties.”  The Archbishop in no way justifies any wrong-doing in which high-profile men of the cloth may have been been involved, but he also affirms with certainty, “… it is not our place to judge these men who did a great deal of good in their priestly lives despite the failings that have come to light.  We must be grateful for the spiritual blessings they have brought to many people.” 

This non-judgmental attitude, regarding the morality or sinfulness of priests who have not lived up to their spiritual commitments or promises, applies as well to Padre Antonio José Martínez in regard to his public conflict with his bishop, Jean Baptiste Lamy, or in regard to any alleged moral failings. 
The concluding exhortations of Archbishop Sheehan are pertinent today as they were in the time of his episcopal predecessor and Padre Martinez: Do not put your “faith in the bishop or priest, but in Jesus and the Eucharist!  We human beings do the best we can, but sometimes we fail….Put your faith in Chist and the Sacraments of our Church so that your faith can never be disappointed and you will never be scandalized.”
Vicente Martinez of Taos, part-time resident of Florida, has done significant research in recent years on the progeny of Padre Martinez.  It will be part of the documentation on the Padre’s Last Will and Testament that will accompany an annotated 1877 Biography by Santiago Valdez of Padre Martinez, and an 1840 Autobiography.  I have had the privilege on assisting in the research and writing of this coming publication to which Father Tom Steele, SJ has contributed so much scholarship.  May he rest in peace!  Mr. Robert Torrez is Father Steele’s “anointed” successor as editor of the publication-project that may be out within a year, perhaps by the end of the centennial of New Mexico’s statehood.  The publication-project purports to deal with the life and accomplishments of Padre Antonio José Martínez, “warts and all” (Vicente Martinez) “within their context, but without excuses.” (Fr. Juan Romero)  Stay tuned!


Next year, 1912, New Mexico will celebrate its centennial as a state of the Union.  In his book My Penitente Land, Fray Angelico Chavez called Padre Antonio José Martínez (1793-1867) New Mexico’s greatest son.  Upon his death, the NM Territorial Legislature called him “La Honra de Su País”/THE HONOR OF HIS HOMELAND.” In 2004, the NM state legislature unanimously reprised that encomium and provided funding for a more-than life sized bronze memorial in his honor that was placed in the center of the Town of Taos Plaza in 2006.  His life traversed three distinct eras–the Spanish period until Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican period until the United States’ occupation of Santa Fe in 1846, and the American period until the present.  His life of 74 years was replete with both great contributions to church and state as well as great controversies. He was a pioneer printer and journalist, author and publisher printing on his own press a newspaper, religious and political tracts as well as books.  He was a priest of the people serving in his parish of Taos for forty-two years.  He was an educator starting a school for girls as well as boys in 1826, a seminary in the 1833, and a law school in the 1846.   He was an accomplished politician who served six terms in the Mexican legislature for the Mexican Republic’s Department (equivalent to a state) of New Mexico, and seven times as a representative for the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico after it became part of the United States. 
The last decade of his life was clouded by serious controversy with his French Bishop who came to New Mexico in 1851.  The conflict dealt with the policy of tithing that Martinez successfully opposed as a young priest–begetting a change in Mexican civil law–but that Bishop Lamy reinstated shortly after his arrival when church jurisdiction was transferred to the hierarchy in the United Sates.   
Martinez was wrongly suspected of being complicit an 1837 rebellion against the Mexican government because of taxation.  Ten years later, he was falsely accused conspiring to assassinate the new American governor Charles Bent–for whom there was no love lost.
It is true the Padre Martinez had a child before he became a priest, and had some illegitimate children afterwards. However, either he was very discrete about this or his bishop chose not to make that an issue. Nevertheless, Bishop Lamy censured Padre Martinez first with suspension from the exercise of his ministry and then by excommunication for publicly disagreeing with his bishop on the question of tithing. 
Authors Father Tom Steele, S.J. (RIP), Vicente Martinez, and Father Juan Romero have been collaborating on MARTINEZ OF TAOS to be published sometime in 1912.  Paul Espinosa, the award winning film maker of Espinosa Productions, has been preparing a film documentary on the Padre that is expected to be completed about the same time.  To keep up on on these events, and to read documents and essays pertaining to the life and times of Padre Martinez, subscribe gratis to <>.
Fr. Juan Romero – May 27, 2011


First Book Printed in
New Mexico

MANUALITO DE PARROCOS – Handbook for Pastors

A Bilingual Ritual
(Latin-Spanish) Published on the Padre Martinez Press in Taos – 1839



This was one of the first books printed in New Mexico, if
not the first one.  Four years
previously, a Speller—half the number of the more than fifty pages of the Manualito
was printed on the same press before Padre Martinez came to own it.  That booklet, the Speller, was dedicated to
the children of the Martínez extended family.


1. LOG ON to the site of New Mexico State Archives:


2. Click ENTER SITE on the upper left, and that should bring
you to this page:




3. Go to SEARCH field at bottom right, and type in Manualito
de Párrocos
, and click



4. That should take you to a summary paragraph entitled
“1839 – Manualito de Párrocos.”
CLICK on that title, and it should take you to a one-page summary of “A
TREATMENT – By Rev. Juan Romero.” 


5. SCROLL DOWN to the bottom
of that page, and you will come to a simple menu with two choices: Related
, and Return to Search Results.  I highly recommend you click on Related


6. That will prompt you to
choose MANUALITO DE PARROCOS or VITURAL BOOK, Manualito de Parrocos. 


7. Choose BOTH, but one at a
time.  I suggest you start with “Manualito
de Parrocos
,” which is the treatment, and then continue on to “Virtual
” which is an interesting glimpse into the text itself—all 52 pages,
plus.  Be advised that it takes “several
minutes to load, depending on your internet connection.


* * * * *


See a virtual version of this
1834 booklet that may consider the first book published in New Mexico. It is
presented through the research of Pam Smith by the cooperative efforts of the
Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe and the Smithsonian Institute:


A year ago today, I literally fell into the river.  It was a great day to do so–the feast of San Juan Bautista.  All over Latin America, especially in such places as Puerto Rico with its capital named after the Saint, people celebrate the feast by contact with water.  By going to the beach, river, swimming hole or bath tub/shower, they symbolically renew their baptisms.

Jesuit Priest Louis Tempe came to visit me in Palm Springs.  He wanted to interview me about the Tercer Encuentro Hispano Pastoral for which I was the national coordinator from 1984-1985.  The consultative process sponsored by the American Bishops lasted for several years culminated in a summer event that took place at Catholic University in Washington, DC.  It resulted in a national pastoral plan for Spanish speaking Catholics in this country, and has been implemented with various degrees of success. 
In any event, after the interview, I took him to tour the cool springs at Indian Canyon.  The Agua Caliente Tribe of Cahuilla Indians for centuries have used their hot springs–where today is located the Spa Hotel in Palm Springs –in the winter.  During the summers and during warm wather, they went to the cool springs in the canyon.
 During the guided tour I was giving, I got a little too close to the edge.  It was an unintended occasion for the renewal of my own baptismal promises.


All fatherhood is from God.  One of the greatest privileges believers of all faiths have is to address God as ABBA,  the Aramaic word connoting tenderness and love that is better translated “daddy” or “tata Dios.”  Jesus taught us to pray the famous prayer addressing God as OUR FATHER.  Jesus Christ is always, from all eternity, in relationship to His heavenly Father, and invites us to share in the same relationship through adoption–Gods’ grace freely given by which we are also children of God.  Through Baptism, we become little brothers and sisters of our elder brother Jesus Christ, and of one another.  In liturgy, we pray TO THE FATHER, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

Our human fathers are sometimes flawed, sometimes they are almost saints.  Whatever they are, they deserve our honor: “Honor thy father and thy mother,” the Fourth Commandment obliges.

Antonio Jose Martinez experienced human fatherhood.  As a very young man of 19, he got married, and within the year had a daughter who shared her mother’s name: Maria de La Luz.  Mother died in childbirth, and after a few years, Antonio Jose left his daughter in the care of her maternal grandparents in Abiquiu–it is strongly supposed–while he went to Durango to pursue an education.  In 1824, a couple of years after returning to New Mexico as an ordained priest, he was assigned to the parish of Santo Tomas in Abiquiu.  He had been baptized there in 1793, married there in 1812, buried his wife there in 1813 and had his daughter baptized there in the same year.  He was there for only a short time before his daughter died at the young age of eleven going on twelve.  Padre Martinez remained in his ancestral home of Abiquiu–although he had lived in Taos since he was eleven– for a total of about two years before returning to Taos in 1826 to become the priest in charge of the parish of San Geronimo at the Indian Pueblo.  The parish church included several chapels in the large surrounding area, including the church of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe to which he would remain related for forty-two years until his death in 1867.

Antonio Jose Martinez was blessed in the lives of his wife and daughter, both named Maria de La Luz Martinez, who died all too-soon.  One of the flawed dimensions of the life of Padre Martinez is the fact that he had children after becoming a priest.  For a priest of the Western (Latin) Rite to marry is forbidden by the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church.  It is not divine law, nor has it always been the custom.

The mother of his post-priesthood children, Teodora Romero, was a young woman who became a widow and bereaved mother when she lost her husband and daughter in 1826, the same year Padre Antonio Jose Martinez came to Taos as the priest-in-charge of Guadalupe Church.  Within four years, this couple had a son by the name of George, not Jorge, in honor–it is said–of George Washington for whom Padre Martinez had great regard.  The cornerstone of the Washington Capitol was laid in the same year of 1793 that Padre Martinez was born.

There were other children Padre Martinez fathered, and we will treat them in this blog on other occasions.  Two others, however, are worthy of special mention at this time: Santiago Valdez and Vicente Romero.  Valdez was an orphan brought up by a Valdez family in Taos.  The Martinez family of the Padre holds to a strong oral tradition that Padre Martinez was his actual father.  In his Last Will and Testament of 1867, reviewed and renewed shortly before he died, Padre Martinez left his books,  library and some property to Santiago Valdez.  In addition, he indicated that it was his will that this familiar (relative, or member of his extended family) and his children bear the name Martinez.  Most of them did.  Ten years after the death of Padre Martinez, Santiago Valdez wrote a biography of the Padre, Biografia del Presbitero Antonio Jose Martinez, Cura de Taos.  It is a manuscript in Spanish, never published up to the present, located within the Ritch Collection at the Huntington Library near Los Angeles.  This blog will furnish a summary and generous excerpts among its coming attractions.

Vicente Ferrer Romero is the youngest child of Padre Martinez, fourteen years junior to Santiago Valdez.  He came of age during the tensions and serious conflicts between Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and Padre Martinez.  The Taos priest considered himself a journalist, and had many opinions about many things.  He had founded the short-lived newspaper El Crepusculo de La Libertad  (only six issues), and was friendly with the publisher of  La Gaceta de Santa Fe who was a former (anti-slavery)  Presbyterian minister.  In this and other venues, Padre Martinez publicized his disagreements with the bishop’s policies regarding tithing and other matters.  Vicente as a young teenager witnessed the tensions between the bishop and his father, Padre Martinez.  They crested between the years 1856 and 1858, and were marked respectively by the ecclesiastical censures of suspension and excommunication.  (More about these in a future blog.)  Vicente Ferrer Romero, by 1873,  went on to become a very effective lay evangelizer and circuit rider for the Presbyterian faith.  A paper on Padre Martinez and Ecumenism, and another specifically on Vicente F. Romero will also be grist for future treatments in this blog.

In spite of the inner conflict that Padre Martinez must have suffered from having children after becoming a priest, as evidenced in his efforts to obscure his paternity in the baptismal register of Guadalupe parish, it is worth noting that his conflicts with the bishop were totally other.  The moral character of Padre Martinez was never impugned by either Bishop Lamy or his Vicar General and schoolmate, Very Rev.Joseph P. Machebeuf.  Nevertheless, the Catholic members of the Martinez family–not to speak of some of the putative children and their descendants–have felt some shame about being illicitly fathered by a priest.  Moreover, it is most important to note that Padre Martinez never abandoned any of his children.  On the contrary, he loved them, cared for them as he could, and provided well for them in his Will.

On this Fathers’ Day, I wish to conclude this posting with an homenaje to my own father, Jose Tobias Romero.  Born in Taos, he was a shepherd boy during the summers in the mountains of New Mexico.  He married his high school sweetheart, my mother Claudia Garcia, and they had three boys.  We moved to LA as very young children in 1943; Lockheed Aircraft employed dad as a machine accountant (“tabulating”).   Mom died in 1969, and a little over a year later, dad went to the Claretian seminary, was ordained a priest in 1975, and served as a priest for 22 years before going to the Lord in 1996.  This Taoseno was married as a young man, had children, became a widower, went to the seminary and was ordained a priest.  There was absolutely no stigma in this.  On the contrary, it was an occasion for surprise and some adulation.  Pray for us, dad.  !Que en paz descanse!  God bless all of our fathers, grandfathers, godparents, and all priests who have brought blessings to our lives.


Rebirth is a special experience.  Jesus told Nicodemus, the Pharisee who visited him by night, that he had to be “born again” to enter the Kingdom of God.  Did he have to re-enter his mother’s womb, the man wondered.  Jesus did not say no, but he clarified,  “Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5)

This last year has been the “Year of the Priest,” and it culminated this last Friday, a week ago with a very special celebration of several thousand priests from all over the world who were gathered in Rome around Pope Benedict XVI at the giant plaza of St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.  It was a time to repent of our collective sinfulness in failing fidelity to our vocation, and to acknowledge our dependence on God for his loving kindness, mercy and forgiveness.  It a was a time for re-dedication of our lives to the call that the Lord has given us to spend ourselves in loving service of God and His people.  It was God’s good time (kairos–moment of grace) to renew our priestly lives and ministry.  It was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, source of God’s loving kindness, compassion, and mercy.

After almost a year of not being able to publicly celebrate Mass on a regular basis because of my heart attack last August, I once again began doing so with great joy.  It was like a “First Mass,” and I was especially pleased to do so in the parish where I began my priestly ministry more than forty-six years ago–St. Alphonsus Parish in East Los Angeles, near the corner of Atlantic Blvd. and Whittier Blvd.  In fact, I am staying for these few weeks of June in the same room that I occupied as a newly ordained priest in 1964.  Indeed, it is like re-entering mother’s womb, a new birth.  May the Lord accompany me in this personal physical “re-birth,” and in the henceforth more regular postings on the life and legacy of Padre Martinez.


During the down time of recuperation, I have continued research and writing on the life and legacy of Padre Martinez, and have collaborated with Vicente Martinez and Father Tom Steele.

I hope to renew some past postings that have disappeared into cyberspace, and post new items recently written as well as future postings waiting to be penned.  I invite you to check out this blog with some regularity, and to spread the word about it.  May it become as interesting for you to read it as it is interesting and fun for me to put it together.


Fr. Juan Romero – Father’s Day 2010


Praise and THANKS to God for several things!  I am grateful for my recovering health after a summer heart attack, for retrieving this web log about Padre Martinez, and for recent developments that are about to yield fruit.  These include a documentary film about the Cura de Taos, a new history-biography of the Padre, and a new book about Taos that includes at least one essay on Padre Martinez.

I had a heart attack in mid August, on my way to Santa Fe for a meeting of scholars convoked by lawyer Michael Olivas (promoting the on-line digitalization of materials pertaining to Padre Martinez).  My triple by-pass surgery at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque was followed by a brief time of recuperation with relatives in Taos.  I am now at Palm Springs, slowly getting better and beginning to do some writing.  This is my first contribtion to the blog for too long a time.
Documentary film maker Paul Espinosa, with the help of various contributors, is revising a script for a film on Padre Martinez. His credits include US-MEXICAN WAR: 1846-1848, shown on PBS several years ago.  In the new year, the script will be submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities for production funding.  The working title was the DAWNING OF LIBERTY, but is now called LIBERATNG OUR AMERICA.
Eminent Jesuit scholar of things New Mexican is putting finishing touches on a significant work on the LIFE AND TIMES OF PADRE MARTINEZ.  Robert Torrez, a former state historian, will become general editor of the book.  He has several collaborators, and the opus will likely be published as a one-volume English text of over 500 pages.  It will include never-before published materials copiously annotated with interesting footnotes.   The plan is that the work will include the following: 1840 Autobiography, 1867 Last Will and Testament, and 1877 Biography by Santiago Valdez.  I expect that the University of New Mexico Press will publish the book by 2012, the centenniel of New Mexican Statehood. This would be appropriate in light of the fact that, in 1846, Padre Martinez became the first New Mexican to swear alligience as a citizen of the new territory belonging to the USA.
Corrina Santistevan, Doña Eufemia (award) recepient,  is writing the last chapter of the new HISTORY OF TAOS whose publication she has been coordinating and promoting.  As I understand, it is an anthology of essays.  Corrina asked me to contribute the essay on the enegmatic role of Padre Martinez with the Penitentes. 


This website is dedicated to the person and legacy of Padre Antonio Jose Martínez (1793-1867) who during his life was known as the Curade Taos (Priest of Taos).  Upon his death in 1867, the NM Territorial Legislature called him La Honra de Su País (The Honor of His Homeland). He was orginally buried in his private chapel by his home in the center of Taos, and twenty-four years later his remains were removed to the “American Cemetery” on land that the Padre had donated for the burial of the Americans killed in the 1847 Uprising, located in what is now called Kit Carson Park.  The encomium LA HONRA DE SU PAIS/THE HONOR OF HIS HOMELAND was inscribed on his upright gravestone as part of the epitaph.  The NM State Legislature in 2004, under the leadership of Senator Carlos Cisneros, reprised that phrase in a unanimously passed resolution that provided funding for a public arts project.  Two years later, that phrase became the title for the larger than life-sized bronze memorial of Padre Martinez sculpted by San Luis artist Huberto Maestas and erected in the Taos Plaza.


Antonio José was born along the Chama River in Abiquiu, avillage established in 1739 west of Santa Cruz (next to Española) along the RioGrande. When he was eleven, in 1804, he moved to Taos together with his parentsand younger siblings.  At nineteen,Antonio José married Maria de La Luz Martinez, a distant cousin.  Within a year, his young wife died as shewas giving birth to their daughter who was named for her mother. 


The widower decided to study for the priesthood, left hisdaughter with her maternal grandparents, and made his way to the seminary inDurango where he excelled in his studies, especially canon (church) law andphilosophy. A major influence in his life was Padre Miguel Hidalgo, father ofthe Mexican nation.  From his parish ofOur Lady of Sorrows and under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in 1810,Padre Hidalgo shouted for independence from Spain.  Eleven years later, in 1821, a year before Antonio José wasordained a priest, Hidalgo’s shout for independence bore fruit.  La Nueva España, including New Mexicoand all of what is today called the “southwest,” became La Republica deMéxico.


Shortly after his ordination, Padre Martinez returned to hisnative home in Taos.  He was supposed tohave stayed for another year in Durango to obtain some pastoral experience andcontinue his theological studies.  However,he was sickly—asthma (?)—so he returned to live for awhile at his parents’ homewhere some of his younger siblings were still living. The young Padre Martinezhelped the aging Franciscan priest who was the pastor of San Geronimo (St.Jerome) parish, the main church of Taos founded at the Indian Pueblo at thedawn of the seventeenth century.  PadreMartinez also helped with baptisms, funerals, and wedding preparation at thechurch of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Taos Plaza, about three miles to thesouth.  Guadalupe was not yet its ownparish, but was still a mission dependent on the main church of San Geronimo.


After he recuperated from his illness, Padre Martinez wasassigned to a couple of parishes where he had the opportunity to show hisspecial love for the poor—at Tomé located south of Alburquerque and at theparish of Santo Tomás in Abiquiu where he had been baptized as an infant, andwhere his wife was buried and his daughter was living with hergrandparents.  By 1825, the young Maríade La Luz also tragically died at the very young age of twelve, and within ayear, Padre Martinez was reassigned to be the priest in charge at Taos.  This was his fondest hope, now realized.


This blog will explore in some detail—through biography,correspondence and other documentation– the forty-two years that PadreMartinez spent in Taos from 1826 until his death in 1867.  I warmly invite you to MARK THIS BLOG AS ONEOF YOUR FAVORITES.  Beinteractive, and share what especially intrigues you with others who may beinterested.  Please help get the wordout.  Invite others to track this blog.


Padre Martinez distinguished himself as a religious leader,educator, journalist, author, printer, publisher, rancher, lawyer andstatesman. The last decade of his life was clouded by serious controversy withhis new bishop, the Most Rev. Jean Baptiste Lamy.  Martínez was a “liminal man” straddling the threshold of variouseras of New Mexican history–the Spanish period that lasted until 1821, theMexican period that lasted until 1846, and the American period that BenjaminRead called that most “transcendant epoch.” [Illustrated History of NewMexico, 1912]


Digitalizing Padre Martinez

Michael Olivas, a native of Santa Fe, an attorney and professor of law athe the Univrsity of Houston Law Center, is convoking a working group to meet NM State Records Center and Archives on Monday, August 17.  The focus of the meeting is to discuss various research projects being conducted on Padre Antonio Jose Martinez of Taos for the purpose of possibily digitizing and storing digitally on one website books and other materials published by the Padre and maybe works about the Padre.  It is a laudable enterprise, and I wish Mr. Olivas every success. 
Sandra Jaramillo, the Director of the NM State Archives will host the meeting at the Records Center in Santa Fe.   Besides her and her staff, others invited are Archdiocesan representatives Jerome Martinez and Marina Ochoa, UNM professors Laura Gomez and Gabriel Melendez, Palace of the Governors staff Tomas Jaehn and Tom Leech, filmmaker Paul Espinosa, and independent scholars Robert Torrez, Tom Steele, Juan Romero, and Vicente Martinez.

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.