A casual walk to our favorite coffee place – 35 degrees North (as in latitude, dude). They have both indoor and outdoor seating areas, and it’s a nice place to plan your day.
While we have been to the Loretto Chapel many times, it is always a wonderful place to gain perspective on the religious history of Santa Fe. Seven Sisters of Loretto journeyed to Santa Fe in1852 to open a school. The Bishop brought in an architect from France to help build the chapel. The architect, Antoine Mouly and his sone built a Gothic-style chapel, similar to Saints Chapelle in Paris. The stained glass windows came from Paris, shipped through New Orleans to St. Louis and by wagon over the Old Santa Fe Trail. Just incredible. Then there’s the legend of the Miraculous Staircase, which took six months to build and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support. (Railings were added later for safety.) As the legend goes, a carpenter appeared after the sisters prayed for intercession to help them remove the ladder to the choir loft because it was too difficult to climb. A carpenter showed up from nowhere and built the staircase – still an engineering marvel since there are no visible joints. When the Loretto Academy closed in 1968, the chapel was sold and is now a historic site and private museum. A must-see.
A short walk along the Old Santa Fe Trail is the San Miguel Mission church, considered to be the oldest church in the United States. Amazingly this church has been here since 1628, constructed by the Tlaxcala’s Indians who came to New Mexico from old Mexico in 1598 with the Spanish.
The roof was burned in the Pueblo Revolt and the Spanish, upon their when their return, had it rebuilt, to be completed in 1710. It has undergone structural changes over the years (as you can imagine since it’s still standing!). The walls are built from Pueblo bricks and now covered in the traditional Santa Fe adobe stucco. Masses are still held here on Sundays. We were deeply moved by this small church.
The carved and painted wooden altar screen was a gift in 1768 from Lieutenant Jose Antonio Ortiz. Quite impressive – in the upper ovals St. Francis of Assisi, St. Louis IX, King of France, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Clare of Assisi, and the statues including Archangel Michael and two other saints.
There is also a bell on display, brought from Spain – and dated 1356! Too much–what people did to bring a memorable piece of Christianity from Europe to Santa Fe. And its a bit much that people leave small metals all around and on the bell.
On leaving San Miguel Mission, you encounter a sign for the ‘oldest house’ in the US. I have to stop in just to see what this is all about. It is the same structure, once again renovated over the years. However, some of the original bricks are made visible inside. There are two rooms still kept historically, small. Free!
All this history requires food for the brain, also known as “lunch.” Cafe Pasqual’s is a well-known, quaint dining place serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter what time of day you arrive, you will wait. Fortunately we only had to wait 20 minutes for a seat at the communal table.
The food is excellent and worth the wait. Chili-bacon, peppers, tomato and lettuce sandwich and Steve goes for the combo taco plate. Yum! This one of our top ten choices for food, and it stays on the list for our next visit.
Filled to the brim – both our brains and stomachs!