Our faith is drawn from the earth.– Picurís tribal member Carl Tsosie
Our faith is drawn from the earth.
In the historic adobe churches of Taos and northern New Mexico, one observes the melding of 500 years of multiculturalism. These sometimes humble structures are the very heart of the communities they serve.
Celebrating over 200 years, the historic San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos was built in the early 1800s and is the only original church that remains intact in the Taos area. It has been artistically recorded by 20th Century artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, who were fascinated by its adobe contours and sculptural buttresses. Their artful depictions of the rustic architecture of San Francisco de Asis have made the church internationally famous.
Every June, parishioners and community volunteers gather to re-plaster the church in adobe. This annual project is called “The Enjarre” or “the mudding” of the church. Clay, sand, straw, and water are mixed into thick mud and applied to the church, layer upon layer, until the entire adobe structure, from top to bottom, becomes resistant to the elements.
The traditions that created the historic churches of northern New Mexico can be even better understood by visiting the museums of Taos and nearby Chimayó. You will see artifacts like those that adorn the churches—santos and retablos (images of saints)—photography exhibitions with commentary by experts in the fields of art and architecture, and artists’ interpretations of the churches.