St Francis Cathedral
Lonely Planet review for St Francis Cathedral
Jean Baptiste Lamy was sent to Santa Fe by the pope with orders to tame the Wild Western outpost town through culture and religion. Convinced that the town needed a focal point for religious life, he began construction of this cathedral in 1869. Lamy's story was the inspiration for Willa Cather's classic Death Comes for the Archbishop. Inside the cathedral is a small chapel, housing the oldest Madonna statue in North America. Carved in Mexico, the statue was brought to Santa Fe in 1625, but when the Indians revolted in 1680, the villagers took it into exile with them. When Don Diego de Vargas retook the city in 1692, he brought it back, and legend has it that its extraordinary powers are responsible for the reconquest of the city.