Wednesday, February 12, 2014

San Felipe de Neri Church

Across from the plaza in Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico, stands this picturesque old church.  I am drawn to such buildings because of their beauty and their significance in the history of our country.  San Felipe de Neri Church, it turns out, is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city.  It was originally constructed in 1706 by Fray Manuel Moreno, a Franciscan priest, who settled here with 30 families.  To put things in perspective, this is nearly 100 years earlier than the mission era in California.  It makes me realize that my special project, Along the Mission Trail, will eventually lead me further east to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The original church collapsed in 1792 and the building that we see today was constructed in 1793.  Everything is original except for its tin ceiling, brick floor and entrance.  A school and a convent were added in the 1800's.  Today, it is still a very active parish.  I noted that Hotel Albuquerque, where I was staying, is donating a portion of their revenue to the construction of an altar in the church's old Gaspari Chapel.  It made me feel like part of the community even though I was a tourist, merely passing through.

But like thousands of tourists before me, I vow to return.  There is something about the southwest that lures us back--the incredible skies, the vibrant colors, the art, the cuisine and the history of a people that were here long before the Spaniards arrived to claim this land as their own.  There is magic here.  No doubt about it.

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