LA CAPILLA/ORA TORIO DE LA PURISM A Concepción DE María:The Church and Records of the Ministry of Padre Martínez After His Ecclesiastical Censures Until His Death -1856-1867
Vicente M. Martínez and Rev. Juan Romero ©
The ministry of Padre Martínez from 1856-1867 covers the period during which he was under suspension1 27 October 1856 and after his excommunication2 on 11 April 1858 until his death on 27 July 1867. His ministry was carried out principally in two buildings west of Taos Plaza, his private oratorio (oratory) and a capilla (Chapel) used for public worship with their respective campo santos (graveyards), all located behind his residence. Although the data contained in his sacramental records have been cited in publications and papers, the entries contained in the records have never been examined and analyzed as presented below. Based on his Last Will and Testament and records of the sacramental ministrations of La Capilla de La Purísima Concepción de Marfa, this paper will provide evidence that Padre Martínez carried on a viable and active ministry in a “parallel” church in close proximity to the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe parish church in Taos from 1856 to 1867.
The ministry and level of activity of Padre Martínez prior to this period is well documented in his correspondence and other documents, but of importance for this analysis is the description of La Capilla de La Purfsima Concepción de Marfa and its contents described in his Last Will and Testament combined with the records of his sacramental ministrations of baptism, marriage, and death, in order to provide a complete picture. The Will is archived at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives and the sacramental records reviewed herein originate in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe (AASF) and were copied to microfilm by the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives (NMSRCA) in Santa Fe3 and The Church Of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) archives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The research was carried out by coauthor, Vicente Martinez, at NMSRCA and in Family History Centers in LDS Churches in Boca Raton, FL, and Taos, NM. The record of baptisms provided a most complete source for analysis, as did the book of burials. The Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico (HGRC-NM) recently published the majority of the baptisms in Taos Baptisms 1850-1869 (B31), and the death records are online at the American Living History
Network (ALHN) web site. More on this will be discussed below. The marriage records that have been located are the least complete and to our knowledge have not been published.
In his correspondence of January 28, 1856, Padre Martínez advised Bishop Lamy that he was in bad heath, suffering from a bladder infection, (he also had asthma), and severe rheumatism in his legs that made walking difficult. He requested a native New Mexican priest as an assistant and specifically asked for Rev. Don Ramon Medina, whom he had trained in his preparatory seminary. Padre Martínez suggested to the Bishop that Padre Medina could ultimately replace him as pastor. Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, looking for an excuse to get rid of Padre Martinez, interpreted this correspondence, incorrectly, or perhaps conveniently, as a letter of resignation. Shortly thereafter, in May of 1856, the Bishop appointed a Spanish priest to succeed Padre Martínez as pastor of Taos: Padre Don Damaso Taladrid whom the Bishop had met during one of his trips to Rome. The two priests clashed. Father Taladrid had little regard for the health situation of Padre Martínez or his many years at the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He made it difficult for Padre Martínez to celebrate Mass at the parish by not allowing the sacristan to make preparations when Padre Martínez was to say Mass. Padre Martínez began construction on the oratory by June when Taladrid reported to Bishop Lamy that Martínez had built a private oratory on his own property.4 Padre Martínez wrote to Bishop Lamy onl October 1856 and stated that on his property and at his own expense he had built a private oratory and walled cemetery on his property. He further advised the bishop that he did so because Taladrid had been disrespectful to him as pastor emeritus and had been making derogatory comments against him,5 as well as was making it difficult for Martínez to say Mass in the parish church. These letters place the approximate dates of construction of the oratory and chapel between June and October 1856.
The Last Will and Testament6 of Padre Martínez written in 1867 provides a description of the oratory and property as follows:
“I declare and resolve that I have a chapel with graveyard, above-mentioned and adjoining said oratory, which several neighbors helped to build, however, most of the expense was made by me and built on my own land. It has a main altar in the sanctuary with carved statues (bultos) and paintings (retablos), a pulpit, confessional, credence table, and a consecrated altar stone, and a small altar railing in the sanctuary with three steps going down to the body of the chapel.7”
The Inventory of the Will also confirms the existence of two buildings and two
“33 % varas of land long, 21 1/4 varas wide in the plaza Don Fernando upon whose land there are two Oratories and two Cemeteries. The number of yards above mentioned is outside of those taken up by the walls.” It was all valued at $1,000.00. 8
He went on to describe the contents of the chapel in even more detail:
There are: one tin chandelier with two rings of candles, a tall tin cross with processional candles, another yellow metal cross, about a vara high, with four tall crystal candleholders [sanctuary lamp] for the altar, twelve tin wall-sconces in the sanctuary and body of the chapel: also one tabernacle with padlock and candles, and a lantern used by the minister during services. One complete set of silver and white classic vestments, with amice, alb, and cincture along with corporals in their burses, one classic purple vestment, and another white [all with their own corresponding] amices, albs, and cinctures, but without the burses that I gave to Father Lucero. There are about twenty purificatorspurificators and maniples, all of linen, one black vestment and cope—all satin; one black fontal for the catafalque, five maniples, three surplices, one biretta, one chalice with silver paten and small spoon, and this chalice has a container for taking it out to the countryside: one pair of silver cruets and another of crystal, and a slate that serves as a tray on which to rest the cruets, one silver and gilt [gold-brocade] stole [of white and violet] used to give blessings, a silver pyx with gilt inside used for taking the Holy Viaticum to the sick, and lastly a table used as a catafalque and a bench in said chapel, one wooden stand and Missal, and a ritual for priests [Manual de Parrocos].9 Besides, there are other mid-sized tables and two small credence tables, one for the chapel and the other for the oratory, and this one has on its altar table, some statues of fine quality, two figurative angels [cherubs] with their candlesticks, all of the above-referenced remains for the use of services in said oratory and chapel.10
With regard to the use of the chapel and cemeteries Padre Martínez stated:
Said chapel and cemetery remain in the care of the patrons who are named herein,11 who helped me, and who shall be buried there without cost. Other poor people who will ask to be buried in the body of the chapel will be given burial upon payment for costs of the oblata [bread and wine] and beeswax; moreover, my private oratory and its cemetery will serve as burial graves for the family members who served me.12
And lastly Padre Martínez reserved the oratory for his own burial as follows:
I command that my body be buried in the oratory that I built and consecrated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is located to the west side of the chapel, also dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. As to the style of my burial, I arranged my funeral services at the beginning of this year. I have decided that my body be buried without any more ritual, and covered with my silk cassock over my usual clothes, with surplice and biretta.13
From what has been presented, we know that the buildings used for his ministry were constructed on a l/12th acre plot of land attached to, or near his house. The dimensions of the chapel, oratory, and graveyards do not exist but given the furnishings it must have been sufficiently ample to hold public services. It is clear from his comments about the graveyards that one appears to be a pauper’s cemetery. The other required a fee, as did burial within the interior of the chapel. The pauper’s cemetery is consistent with Padre Martinez’ commitment to the poor, and the Will and sacramental records that follow will support the fact that other sacraments were administered in the Chapel.
Location of La Capilla La Purísima Concepción
As stated above, the will does not give a precise location for the chapel and oratory other than to list it as an eastern boundary to a tract of land that he sold behind his residence.
“I sold a tract, part to Antonio Manzanares and another part to Aniceto Valdez. [This tract] is bounded on the East by the fence of the Plaza, my Chapel, and the walls of the Sisters’ property.” 14 The location, as stated by others, also verifies a place behind his residence. Pedro Sánchez in Chapter XI of his book states: “Alii en sus propios terrenos, edified d su propia costo una grande y hermosa capilla en la cual ejercid su alto ministerioT (There, on his own land and with his own funds he built a large and beautiful chapel where he practiced his lofty ministry).15 As Dora Ortiz Vásquez states in her book Enchanted Temples of Taos, the reburial of Padre Martínez in 1891, twenty-four years after his death, originated at the oratory in his home where he was buried. The remains were then taken in procession to the Taos Association Cemetery (now known as Kit Carson Cemetery) for reburial.16 The recent discovery of an article in a Taos newspaper by the name of El Monitor, published in July of 1891, gave a complete description of the reburial and the participants. It further states that the procession began at the home of the late Santiago Valdez, formerly the home of the deceased priest, where he had been buried.17
Based on these historic descriptions it can be concluded that the oratory and chapel were near his residence, and per the Will were most likely in two separate buildings located on the same plot of land and somewhere behind his residence.18 Also, as pointed out above Padre Martínez had severe health problems and given his advanced age, he would not have been able to walk long distances, particularly during the winter. The location of the Padre Martínez Home is at 106 and 108 Padre Martínez Lane19 in Taos and is a private residence not open to the public.
For many years it was suspected that a building adjacent to the residence was the capilla because the exposed adobes on one corner were similar in size to those of the padre’s residence that was built in the mid 1820's. A portion of this building appears at the southwest comer in the earliest known photograph of the home taken in the early 1900’s, below.
Then in 1998, during the restoration of this building for a private school and the landscaping of the property, a portion of a graveyard was inadvertently uncovered on the south side while digging for an electrical conduit and exposing one grave containing the remains of one adult male and female, and a child. Approximately twenty graves were inadvertently uncovered on the west side of the building during landscaping. Subsequent interviews in 2009 and 2010 with two informants who were involved in the construction and with the property owner, provided sufficient evidence that this was most likely the location of the capilla and oratorio and the campo santos cited by Padre Martínez in his Will. It was further stated by the property owner that the Taos County Medical Investigator was notified as well as local law enforcement officials and the work was stopped. The officials verified the graves and fragments as containing human remains and decided that they should be covered and not disturbed. No other excavations were attempted to locate any of the other remains.20 Finally, a fourth respondent, John Pena, who was a former childhood friend and neighbor, now 80, stated that his grandparents had told him that a vacant field immediately south and east of their home on Manzanares Road had once been a cemetery.
The information provided by the four respondents cited above established, in our opinion, conclusive proof that the oratorio and capilla were located on this property and served as the headquarters of the ministry of Padre Martínez from 1856-1867, and continued by his followers until 1872. According to the baptismal, marriage and death records during that time period, it is appears that all of these rituals were performed in the capilla, however it is known that Padre Martínez had access to other capillas such as at N. S. de San Juan de los Lagos in and its companion chapel of La Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, both at Talpa near Ranchos. Finally, on page 18 of the 1860 United States Federal Census for Taos County, the census-taker, Pedro Valdez, listed the age of Padre Martínez as sixty-eight and his occupation as “Schismatic R. C. Priest.”21 Another portion of the same census reported his schismatic church as having 600 communicants.
Padre Martínez returned home to Taos from his seminary studies at Durango in 1822, a bit early in order to recuperate from illness (asthma). He helped the Franciscan pastor of the main parish of San Geronimo at Taos Pueblo, and did some work at the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Taos. Upon getting better, he was assigned subsequently for brief periods as priest in charge of the parishes of Abiquiu and San Juan de los Caballeros, until July 1826 when he was assigned as priest in charge of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. During his priesthood he actively advocated against tithing and charging exorbitant fees to the poor for the sacraments. In many cases he was known to barter for labor, or to take crops and livestock in exchange for administering baptism, presiding at a wedding, or assisting at a burial and in times of famine he was known to give grain and livestock to those in need. The sacramental records of his chapel will show that he continued to minister as a priest after the church censures of suspension and excommunication. Under Bishop Lamy the Church was adamant about tithing and collecting fees and in most cases, denied sacraments if they weren’t paid.
“Many times the poor had to bury their indigent dead in the deserts after keeping them three or four days above ground because they didn’t have the money to pay the arancel that the spiritual pastor asked. They could not baptize their children for the same reason. Many lapsed into public concubinage because they did not have the means to pay for a wedding to unite legally in the flesh. The poor who did not want to go begging to the holy pastor when they had business with him would rather steal from their neighbor to satisfy the parochial demands. That was known then and verified many times in this county during the times of which I speak...”22
A review of the names of the families contained in the registry reveal mainly Hispanic surnames and not those of the wealthier segment of the community. The exceptions, of course, were the members of his family. It can therefore be noted that Padre Martinez served the poor from several communities as stated by Santiago Valdez, above.
The complete record of baptisms are contained in LDS microfilm # 16622 and identified as Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe (hereinafter AASF) as Book 59, Arroyo Hondo Church Records. A large portion of these records can also be found in the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe, as Roll # 23, box 71A and identified as AASF Book 58, Baptisms, Taos (1859 - 1867). In the LDS microfilm, which is more complete, there are nine hundred and three entries (+ or - 5) on 195 pages (each numbered page consists of two leaves) signed by Padre Martínez from November 27, 1856 to July 8, 1867. Padre Martínez died on July 27, 1867. After his death there are two and a half pages with seven entries that were signed by Maríano de Jesus Lucero, including the July burial of Padre Martínez and continuing through August 9, 1868.
The entries are in two books on LDS Microfilm # 16622, Church Records, 1852-1869, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Arroyo Hondo, NM:
BOOK 59 - Capilla de la Punsima Concepción, Taos Number of Entries: 161
Dates: November 27, 1856 to March 8, 1859
BOOK 58 - Capilla de La Purísima Concepción, Taos Number of Entries: 646
BOOK 58 (Separate
Number of Entries: Pages:
March 19, 1859 to December 4, 1866
Listing) Capilla de La Purísima Concepción, Taos 89 (82 signed by AJM January to July, 1867
January to July 1867; July 1867 to August 9, 1868
Padre Martínez for 82 in 1867, Padre Maríano de Jesus Lucero for
7 from July 1867 to August to August 9, 1868.
Page 16 of this last set of entries indicates that six confirmations took place December of 1862 but the dates were not legible.23 There are also two additional pages of writings that are not legible. The baptismal books represent the most complete record of the ministry of Padre Martinez.
The parents and godparents of those infants baptized were from all over Taos County and some were even from Mora. Given the status of his health it is unlikely Padre Martinez was able to travel to these locations and it is assumed that the infants were baptized in La Capilla de La Purísima Concepción. The parents and godparents were either identified as vecinos or indios naturales with the majority being vecinos. Their communities of origin include: Placita de Guadalupe or Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, San Fernandes or Don Fernando de Taos, San Francisco del Rancho (Ranchos de Taos), San Francisco de Paula (Lower Ranchitos), Plaza de los Dolores (Canon or Arroyo Hondo), del Pueblo or "indios naturales de Taos" (San Geronimo), Placita de Los Dolores (identified in a later entry as Estiercoles in El Prado), Plaza de Rio Chiquito or La Plaza de la Virgen de San Juan de Rio Chiquito (Talpa), San Juan de Nepumoceno del Llano (Llano Quemado), La Purísima or La Plaza de La Purísima Concepción de María, Estiercoles de Purisima Concepción de María (also El Prado),24 La Sangre de Cristo Desmontes, San Cristoval, San Antonio del Rio Colorado (Questa), Rancho del Canon (Taos Canyon), Agua Negra or San Isidro de Agua Negra (Mora), Sieneguilla (sic Cieneguilla) (Mora?), Guadalupita (Mora), Picuries (sic - Picurfs) Condado de Mora, and Condado de Taos.
It is evident from the entries that the immediate family of Padre Martínez had widespread participation in his capilla. His fellow priest and friend Rev. Maríano de Jesus Lucero, whose name appears on a few entries, seemed to have had a lesser degree of participation in the capilla and mostly after the death of Padre Martinez. The most obvious Padre Martínez family participants include:
Putative son, Vicente Ferrer Romero and Anastacia Lucero (6 as godparents);
Companion, María Teodora Romero (baptism of a male Navaho);
Daughter, María Soledad Romero and husband Santiago Romero (2 daughters and 1 son baptized),
Niece, María Refugio Martínez and husband, Pedro Sánchez (4 as godparents);
Brother Juan Pascual Martínez and wife María Teodora Gallegos (2 daughters and 1 son baptized);
Adopted son, Santiago Valdez and wife, María Agustina Valdez (1 as godparents); Daughter, María de la Luz Romero and her husband, José Manuel Martínez and (1 as godparents);
Daughter, María Soledad Romero and husband, Santiago Romero (1 as godparents). There are perhaps more but these were the most obvious.
The handwriting contained in the entries ranges from good calligraphy to a scrawl but most are somewhere in-between. Age was most likely a factor in the difference in handwriting, and it appears that there may have been other people assisting the padre with the entries. However, it would require a handwriting expert to determine the number of writers. The records from 1865 to 1867 are difficult to read because of ink bleeding through the pages.
The Baptisms performed by Padre’s Martínez and Lucero were valid,25 however, they were illicit. This means they were outside the official purview of the Roman Catholic Church, without the permission or license of the Catholic Church. The Latin word licet means "it is permitted," that is to say, one has a license to do such and so. If she or he transgresses without such permission, the act is considered illicit, i.e. without a license, or without permission. Padre Martinez's baptisms after his excommunication would be treated—in church records—as outside the parish and diocesan norms, i.e., the names of those baptized in the private chapel of Padre Martínez would not be recorded in the official registries, although they would be recognized as valid baptisms.
Fortunately, all of the Book 58 entries have been recently published by the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico in Book B31, New Mexico Baptisms, TAOS, 1850-1869, extracted and transcribed by Armando R. Sandoval, Henrietta M. Christmas, and Ruby Olguin, Albuquerque, NM, 2010. Films used for extraction: AASF # LDS -17010, 22,23. Book 59 still needs to be transcribed, as well as the official Church records for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos from 1859 - 1866 when Fr. Gabriel Ussel took over the parish from Fr. José Eulogio Ortiz, and then from 1866 to 1869 when Fr. José Valezy took over from Ussel (Valezy remained in Taos until 1896). These records can also be found in LDS Microfilm # 16622, Church Records 1852-1869, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Arroyo Hondo, NM. When Fr. Ussel came to Taos he took over Arroyo Hondo and Ranchos and kept all the respective baptismal entries in one book.
The Book of Marriages of Padre Martínez that has been located to date begins in November 1856 and ends in January 1860 and contains 79 entries. (AASF/LDS microfilm # 17017, Taos Marriages 1856-1895.) This book represents only a fourth of the marriages, assuming that he continued marrying couples through 1867. There are most likely other books that have not yet been located.26
The marriage ritual performed by Padre Martínez as documented by the entries in the book was typical for the nineteenth century and included: 1) The prenuptial marriage investigation with testimony by two witnesses as to consanguinity of the couple, or other impediments; 2) Confirmation that Marriage banns were announced three times before the ceremony as required; and 3) The Nuptial Mass and veiling of the couple. The record also contained the marital status of the couple, names of the parents and godparents, and the names of the witnesses. The place of origin and current place of residency of all participants were also given.
The first entry in this book dated November 26, 1856, is the marriage of Pedro del Vincula Sánchez and María del Refugio Martinez, who was the daughter of the Padre’s brother José María Martínez and his wife Carmen Sánchez. The godparents were Santiago de Jesus Valdez and María Agustina Valdez. The Valdezes served as godparents for two other marriages. A second significant family entry was the marriage on August 25, 1859 of José de la Luz Leandro Martínez and María Soledad Martinez, who were first cousins and to whom Padre Martínez gave dispensations.27 The groom was the son of his brother, Juan Pascual Martinez, and María Teodora Gallegos, and the bride was the daughter of his other brother, José María de Jesus Martinez, and María del Carmel Sánchez. I could identify only about seven marriages where one of the spouses may have been Native American from Picuris (3), Cochiti (1), San Juan de los Caballeros (1), Taos (1) and one bride of Tribu Yuta. Only one entry lists the couple as Indios nativos del Pueblo de Taos. There was one marriage where the groom was an Anglo from Holland, W. M. Donohu (Donohue) who married María Viviana Trujillo of La Canada, and both resided in Don Fernando de Taos.
Other close family members of the padre serving as godparents were Jorge [George] Antonio Romero and his wife María Dolores Medina, and combinations of the Romero siblings Julio and María Soledad, Vicente Ferrer and María de la Luz, and Vicente Ferrer and María Soledad.28 The witnesses in a majority of the marriages included Jorge Antonio Romero, Pedro Valdez, José Rafael Tenorio, Pedro Sánchez, Vicente Ferrer Romero, Espiridon Breceda, Policarpio Martinez, Pedro Montoya, and Manuel Antonio Miera all from Don Fernando de Taos. Witnesses from San Francisco del Rancho included Jorge Antonio Romero, Joaquin Sandoval, José Domingo Mondragon29, and José, Diego, and Santos Sandoval of La Virgin de San Juan del Rio Chiquito.
Marriage participants came primarily from the same communities as cited above in the baptisms. However, the communities of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Pojoaque, and Abiquiu were also represented.
Of all the rituals performed by Padre Martinez, it was the marriages that violated Roman Catholic laws. According to Fr. Thomas J. Steele, S. J., “a priest without proper faculties from the bishop cannot validly witness a marriage or give absolution in confession; and an excommunicated priest can say Mass validly, but not licitly.” 30 The marriages Padre Martínez presided at during the time of his excommunication were not recognized in the Church since he no longer had faculties and consequently lacked appropriate jurisdiction to function as a minister of the Catholic Church. The Jesuit priests who preached Missions of reconciliation in Taos and surrounding areas after the death of Padre Martínez in 1869 convalidated some of the marriages and more will be said on the Jesuit Mission of January 1869 below.
There are 404 entries contained in the book of burials found in LDS microfilm #17019 -Taos Deaths 1850-1956. Titled Libros de Partidos de Entieros the records explicitly indicate that most of the burials took place in San Fernando de Taos at the Semeterio de La Purísima Concepción that was on the same property as the Capilla of the same name.
Of the more than four hundred burials listed, approximately three hundred are of infants, toddlers, and children up to 18 years of age. These startling numbers may be indicative of high infant mortality and perhaps epidemics sweeping the area. A comparison with burial records of the Taos, Arroyo Hondo, and Ranchos parishes has not been made. Given the early dates of the baptismal and marriage records there is most likely another burial book covering the time period of November 1856 to March 1861.
The burial book contains entries pertaining to the families of Padre Martinez: 29 June 1862, Samuel, 5 or 6 year old, son of Santiago and María Agustina Valdez, 30 June 1862, Melecio de la Cruz del Espirtu Santo Romero, son of George and Dolores Romero, and 3 May 1867, María Raquel, 6 months, daughter of José (Vicente) Ferrer Romero and María Anastacia Lucero.
The Padre Martínez entries begin on 31 March 1861 and end in early July 1867. Posterior entries made by Padre Maríano de Jesus Lucero begin with the first two entries, one for María Manuela Valdez, Agustina's mother, and the second, that of Padre Martinez himself entered on the day of his death on July 27, 1867. On December 26, 1867 entries bearing Vicente Ferrer Romero's signature begin and continue until July 1869. Vicente is the second youngest son of Padre Martinez, who became an Elder in the Presbyterian
Church in 1874 and was a founding elder of the Taos Presbyterian Church where he served as a lay-minister. In August 1869 there are four entries bearing the signature of Julio Romero (Vicente’s younger brother) through 18 November 1869. Padre Maríano de Jesus again makes the entries in January 1870. Other persons entering and signing entries include Julio Romero, José Rafael Tenorio, and one entry signed by George Antonio Romero (Vicente’s older brother). In 1871 the majority of the signatures are primarily those of Tenorio and Vicente (once spelled with a "B.") Then in 1872 the following people officiated burials - Maríano de Jesus Lucero, Julio, María Juana Martínez (sister of Padre Martinez), Maríano again, and Pascual Martinez31 (brother of Padre Martinez), makes the last entries.
The Taos Burial books have been transcribed by Louanna Gortarez and can be found on the New Mexico American Living History Network (ALHN) online at: http://newmexicoalhn.net/taos/taosdeaths.htm The records of Padre Martínez under excommunication by Bishop Lamy are transcribed from 1861 to 1872 and are distinguished on the ALHN burial records menu with a lower case “b” after the year.
The online records are very comprehensive from 1850 to 1956. The records during the tenure of Padre Martínez as cura propio begin in 1850 to late October 1856. Then, Rev. Damaso Taladrid signs the entries for the burial records for 1856 and the rest of 1857. In 1858 Bishop Lamy appointed Rev. José Eulogio Ortiz, a nephew of the former Vicario, Juan Felipe Ortiz, to succeed Father Taladrid as Pastor of Our Fady of Guadalupe in Taos until 1859. During his short tenure the young Father Ortiz signed the funeral book, as did the French priest Rev. Gabriel Ussel from 1859 to 1861. Father José Valezy was in Taos from 1861 to 1869.
It is customary for a Catholic to be buried in sacred ground blessed by a priest, even if it were only the immediate turf of the gravesite. Christian burial is part of the rites of a funeral in the Church, and is to be carried out according to the official ritual. However, it is not in itself a sacrament. Therefore, the category of “valid or invalid,” such as in a marriage, does not apply. Christian burial is sometimes denied as a penalty, as in the case of a notorious public sinner. However, Padre Martínez publicly denounced the penalty denying Christian burial to Catholics who did not pay their tithe, as imposed by Bishop Lamy’s Christmas Pastoral Letter of 1854.
During this period of censure, and before his death on July 27, 1867, Padre Martínez always considered himself as a Catholic priest as he attested in his Last Will and Testament.
“I, the priest Antonio José Martinez, vecino of the Plaza of Don Fernando de Taos, New Mexico, ill, but of sound mind, I truly believe in the articles and mysteries of our Holy Catholic Faith of which I have been a minister, and in whose faith I wish and profess to live and die, and dying as a faithful Christian”
“I declare, that during the forty-two years of my spiritual administration in various parts of this Territory of New Mexico, and most particularly in this County of Taos, I complied with and fulfilled my ecclesiastic ministry with fidelity and good faith, and tried to the best of my knowledge. I dedicated many more [years] to my studies, with determination and eagerness to the science of religion to leam how to serve my God, Creator, and Savior. My body shall descend tranquilly into the silent grave, and my soul shall rise to the divine tribunal, with full satisfaction that I have done all that I could to enlighten the mind[s] of my fellow citizens, to be the cause of their temporal good, and above all, their spiritual belief, all because this has been decreed by the Christian religion that I profess, convinced of its truth and sanctity. My conscience is calm and clear, God knows this to be true.” 32
Two years after the death of Padre Martinez, La Capilla de La Purísima Concepción de María remained active due to participation by many of the followers and family of Padre Martinez. Based on the burial records above, the chapel was being administered by members of the Romero family. In October 1858 Bishop Lamy suggested to the Taos Pastor, Fr. Gabriel Ussel, that a mission be held in Taos to bring the “schismatics back into the fold.” Fr. Donato M. Gasparri, S. J., a parish priest and consulter at San Felipe Neri Church in Albuquerque, who happened to be giving a mission in Mora in December 1868, was asked to go to Taos when he was done.
Fr. Gasparri arrived in Taos on January 12, 1869 and began the mission on January 14 with a Tritium (three-day) of prayer and devotion for children. The first day of the adult mission began on January 17 with a general communion and a procession. The actual mission consisted of preaching, twice a day, private consultation, confessions, and other efforts. During the last weeks of the mission he visited and gave two-day missions in Ranchos de Taos, Arroyo Hondo, and Arroyo Seco.
According to Fr. Gasparri the mission was successful with many members of the “schismatics” coming forward to be reconciled, with the padre’s family being the first to come forward. Also claimed were sixty-one marriages33 convalidated and the marriages are recorded in parish books, but not identified as convalidations.34 Of particular interest
to this study are the third and fourth marriages convalidated during the mission on 18 January 1869:
1) Pedro Sánchez and Refugio Martinez, the padre’s niece, and the first couple to married by Padre Martínez in 1856, and 2) the padre’s nephew and niece, Leandro Martínez and María Soledad Martinez.35 These were the only immediate family members identified in Taos entries that were mostly signed by the Taos Pastor, Fr. Gabriel Ussel. The Mission further claimed that the chapel of Padre Martínez was closed and that a promise came from Padre Lucero to retire. Despite these positive comments we know from the burial records that the capilla continued to function until 1872, that Fr. Lucero did not retire, and several Catholics who could not reconcile became Protestant.36
Demise of La Capilla cle La Purísima Concepción de María
According to his Last Will and Testament of Padre Martínez and prior deed documents, he gave most of his residential property to his companion and housekeeper, María Teodora Romero and their adult children, George, Julio, and María de la Luz.37 In 1882 Santiago acquired George and Julio's share of the property and established his home and law office on the property. Six years later in April 1888 Santiago passed away and left the home to his widow, María Agustina. In 1891, three years after Santiago’s death, the remains of Padre Martínez were removed for reburial to the American Cemetery, now known as Kit Carson Cemetery where his remains rest in a grave marked a bronze historical plaque. Santiago's widow, Agustina, lived in the house until her death in 1906, and just before her death she conveyed the house to her daughter Mariquita for $50.38
Use of La Capilla de La Purísima Concepción de María ended when designated patron and loyal son of the padre, Vicente Ferrer Romero, became a Presbyterian in 1874. The other patron, Santiago Valdez, had moved to Ocate in the mid 1860’s and was not an active participant in the affairs of the chapel, thus, without the patrons it is possible that the oratorio within 24 years after the Padre’s death fell into a state of disrepair. Perhaps someone in the family felt that the Padre deserved a better resting place. The only identified family member mentioned in the El Monitor was Santiago's son, Don Malaquias Martinez, who at the end of the service gives thanks on behalf of the family.
Primary evidence cited in the Last Will and Testament of Padre Martinez, deed documents, and subsequent writings by Sánchez, Vazquez, and El Monitor prove the existence of La Capilla, Oratorio, y Campo Santos de La Purísima Concepción de María
behind his residence. The inadvertent uncovering of the graves in 1998 help to pinpoint their location and perhaps someday a survey map can be drawn of the property. While we have the physical dimensions of the property we do not have those of the structures.
After his suspension, Padre Martínez remained ministerial active as a priest until his death in 1867. His suspension in 1856 did not deter him, nor did his excommunication in 1858. He baptized over 900 children between 1856 and 1867. Their entries in the Baptismal Register for his chapel of La Purísima Concepción de María, take three tomes.
Thus, the sacramental records of Padre Martínez presented herein provide ample evidence that he had an active ministry with participants from the Taos Valley and the rest of northern New Mexico (i. e. el rio arriba). Taken in its totality, it is no wonder that the Diocese of Santa Fe under Bishop Lamy was not only concerned with these activities but, to some degree, threatened as evidenced by the special Jesuit Mission in 1869.
In the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, the ministerial activities and sacraments performed in La Capilla de La Purísima Concepción de María were viewed as heretical because Padre Martínez was no longer licensed to officiate and minister to the people. Furthermore, his chapel was never licensed for public worship and the same would pertain to the graveyard. While the baptisms and burials were licit, they were still valid however, performing the Sacraments of Confession and Marriage could have been sufficient violations of Church Law to result in his excommunication.
Between 1856 to his death in 1867 Padre Martínez never accepted the censures placed on him by Lamy and continued to challenge the Bishop publicly on three major issues: 1.
He considered the collection of tithes and “first fruits” from the poor as immoral: 2. He felt the rationale and process for his suspension was illegal because it did not follow canonical legal procedures, and thus he never acknowledged the excommunication as shown in his will: and 3. He continued to argue, mistakenly, that his articles in the Santa Fe Weekly Gazette against the Roman Catholic Church were freedom of speech and religion issues protected by Amendment One of the Bill of Rights. His public outspokenness is what finally led to his excommunication by Bishop Lamy.
Rev. Juan Romero is a retired diocesan priest who was bom in Taos and was raised in Los Angeles where he was ordained. Padre Romero, author of Reluctant Dawn: A History of Padre Antonio José Martínez Cura de Taos, 2nd Ed, 2006, http ://thetaosconnection .com/ has been a Padre Martínez historian and advocate for thirty-five years. He was the force behind the funding of the Padre Martínez Memorial Sculpture in Taos Plaza by the New Mexico Legislature in 2002 and which was dedicated on July 16, 2006. He currently resides in Palm Springs, California and continues his ministry as a “supply priest” in various parishes throughout the Los Angeles area.
Vicente M. Martinez, a great-grandson of Padre Martínez has written two articles for NMGS Journal on the progeny of Padre Martinez, and is retired and living in Bothell, Washington where he pursues his interest in Padre Martínez and family genealogy. Fr.
Romero and Mr. Martínez are coauthors along with Fr. Thomas J. Steele, S. J. (who passed away on October 25, 2010) of a major book on Padre Martínez to be published in the near future. Former New Mexico State Historian and author, Robert Torrez, was selected by Fr. Steele to edit the book, Padre Antonio José Martínez - His Life and Times. We are sincerely grateful to Fr. Thomas J. Steele, S. J., our colleague who inspired our research, willingly shared his collection of primary documents, and who took the time to proof and comment on the working drafts of this paper. May he rest in peace. We also wish to thank Louanna Gortarez, ALHN New Mexico, and the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico for publishing respectively, the death and baptismal records of Padre Martinez.
NOTE to readers: This article was published New Mexico Genealogist - The Journal of the New Mexico Genealogical Society, December 2010 Vol. 49, No. 4
Suspensio a divinis - An ecclesiastical censure by which a cleric, for a breach of discipline or for moral cause, is prohibited from exercising “the divine things” of priestly ministry, i.e. his bishop deprives the suspended priest from his faculties (license) to celebrate Mass, preach, or hear Confessions and give Absolution (except in danger of death in which case, through the mercy of God. Cf. “Suspension (in Canon Law),” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14345b.htm
Excommunication is a much more serious ecclesiastical censure than suspension, and may be incurred by or imposed upon either a cleric or lay-person. Cf. “Excommunication,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm
As of this study, it is not known how these records ended in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
AASF Reel 30, pages 529-530
AASF Reel 32
Last Will and Testament of Padre Antonio José Martínez (Original Spanish Document in Taos County, N. M. Records, Wills and Testaments, Book B-4, pp.289-305 located at New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe, NM), translated by Vicente M. Martinez, Rev. Juan Romero, and Elena Goldfeder. See http://padremartinez.org/will.php
Ibid., Part Two, Administration, Page 1
Ibid., Part Two, Administration, pages 1-2. Also, the inventory attached to the Will lists all of the above contents. A vara is approximately 3.3 feet. The dimensions of the property converted to feet are approximately 93.74’ x 59.02’. This would be a plot of land of about a twelfth of an acre that seems sufficiently adequate to contain two small buildings and their respective graveyards. It should be pointed out that neither of these facilities, nor the graveyards, was licensed by the Roman Catholic Church.
Manual de Parrocos was a bilingual (Latin-Spanish) ritual for pastors and priests in general to use in the administration of sacraments. Padre Martínez printed it on his press in 1839.
Episcopalian Bishop Josiah Cruickshank Talbot who visited Padre Martínez in May 1863 described the contents of the Chapel as “The ugly dolls with tin crowns representing the Virgin and other Saints, the miserable daubs which picture our blessed Lord, the Virgin, and the Holy Family, the tin candlesticks, the tin glitter everywhere.” Bishop Talbot Dairy, provided by Rev. Thomas J. Steele, S. J. Priests, Protestant ministers, and missionaries sent to proselytize native New Mexicans and Indians also made disparaging remarks regarding the early New Mexican Santos in Anglo, Protestant, and Catholic historical accounts.
Ibid., Part II, Administration, page 2. The patrons of the chapel were the padre’s adopted son, Santiago Valdez, and his putative son, Vicente Ferrer Romero.
The practice of burial inside of churches was banned by a Royal Decree in the early 1800 for health reasons but persisted in New Mexico churches until the mid 1800's. It continued in private chapels well into the 1860's. See Administration of José Vicente Martínez (1801-1867) March 4, 1867 translated by Vicente M. Martinez, Rev. Juan Romero, and Elena Napoles Goldfeder, PhD, HERENCIA, Volume 18 Issue 3 July 2010, pages 22-33.
Ibid. Part II, Administration, page 1.
Ibid., Part II, Administration, page 2. The Sisters of Loretto were established in Taos by 1863.
Pedro Sánchez, Memories Sobre la Vida del Presbítero Don Antonio José Martinez, Santa Fe, 1903: and Memories of Antonio José Martínez as translated by Guadalupe Baca-Vaughn, The Rydal Press, 1978.
Dora Ortiz Vásquez, Enchanted Temples of Taos: My Story of Rosario - Rydall Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1975.
Fr. Thomas Steele, S.J. (Personal Correspondence), Transcription of El Monitor, June 25,1891; received October 2006 and translated by Vicente M. Martinez.
Additional coordinates for the chapel are given in the 1889 Last Will and Testament of Teodora Romero. “A walled garden to the east of the chapel and adjoining the same [chapel]. Four plots of land that on the east that adjoin the wall of the Sisters of Loreto, on the west with the arroyo that crosses the lower slope of La Loma, on the north in front of the house of Agustina Valdez, the widow of Santiago Valdez, and on the south the wall in the front of the house of Aniceto Valdez.”
The Padre Martínez Home is listed as a significant structure on the National and State Registers of Historical Places. Co-author Vicente Martínez who was raised in the home is a co-owner and lives there during the summer months.
The informants and property owner names are not disclosed to protect their privacy. It should be noted that the paved Town of Taos Guadalupe Parking Lot just west of the Plaza sits on the land where the both the original Our Lady of Guadalupe was erected in 1801 and rebuilt in 1911 and where excavations were done. See Test Excavations at Two Historic Sites in the Town of Taos, New Mexico, Marie E. Brown, Office of Contract Archeology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, UNM Proposal No. 185-571 August 1997, pages 25-43.
Fray Angélico Chávez, But Time and Chance: The Story of Padre Martínez of Taos, 1793 - 1867, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, NM 1981. According to Chávez, “A real schism in the church is one caused by an individual or group whereby they not only break away from papal authority, but continue recruiting followers and fighting that same supreme authority.” page 146. Padre Martinez, in his heart and despite the excommunication, remained loyal to the teachings and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church.
11 Santiago Valdez, Biography of Don Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos, 1877, unpublished modem translation by Rev. Juan Romero, 1993, page 124.
According to Chávez, But Time and Chance, there were confirmations in December 7 and 25 of 1862. The entry for the latter date stated con autoridadpontifica hice estas confirmaciones (I made these confirmations with papal authority). Chávez points out that the Durango Bishop, Zubiria, had only given Padre Martínez a five-year Episcopal faculty to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, p.157.
There is another Capilla de La Purísima Concepción de María, a mission of the Taos parish church, in Upper Ranchitos that would have been in existence at that time. Also, his ranch in Estiercoles (El Prado) was named Rancho de La Purísima Concepción de María. Similarly there were two Plazas de Dolores, one in Canon and the other in Arroyo Hondo.
Whoever baptizes with the intention of doing what Jesus commanded, and uses the Trinitarian Formula baptizes validly. This includes laypeople that are not ordinary ministers of the sacrament, but may do so in emergency. This also includes Protestants and Greek Orthodox, and a variety of other groups.
From June 2-9,2010, and with the assistance of Norma Elizabeth Bodie of Delray Beach, coauthor Vicente Martínez transcribed the marriage records for analysis in order to complete this study.
Only the bishop can give this dispensation. The kinship is too close, and this is considered a forbidden degree of separation.
The Romero family members were very supportive of the ministry of Padre Martínez and five years after his death became Presbyterian. Although Santiago and Agustina Valdez participated in the marriages, and other sacraments, they and their children, remained Catholic.
Mondragon, was a former Hermano Mayor of a Cofradia and politician who together with Vicente F. Romero became Elders of the Taos Presbyterian Church in 1874.
Thomas J. Steele, S. J. Works and Days: A Histoiy of San Felipe Neri Church, 1867-1895.
Pascual Martínez also converted to the Presbyterian Church.
Ibid., Part Two, Administration, page 5. His spiritual ministry actually ran from 1823 to 1867, perhaps a bit more than forty-two years. There is no evidence in his dying words that he ever remarried or became a Protestant as has been alleged in numerous publications.
Ibid., Steele, Works and Days, uses the figure of seventy-six convalidated marriages. In July 2010 coauthor Vicente Martínez reviewed the Book of Marriages cited above for 1869 and found approximately seventy-eight and would concur with Fr. Steele’s findings.
validations and confirmed the possibility of the existence of additional marriage record books of Padre Martinez, yet to be found.
The entry states that the couple was related de consanguidad, secundo grado (i.e. first cousins) and dispensations were apparently given by Rev. Ussel.
This account on Fr. Gasparri’s mission was adapted from Thomas J. Steele, S. J. The View From The Rectory, in Padre Martinez: New Prespectives From Taos, Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico, 1988, pp. 71-80; and Gerald McKevitt, S. J. , “Italian Jesuits in New Mexico: A Report by Donato M. Gasparri, 1867-1869,” New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. 67, No. 4, October 1992, pp. 384-388.
The Valdez/Martínez and Romero family descendants of Padre Martínez are discussed in Vicente M. Martinez, “The Progeny of Padre Martínez of Taos,” New Mexico Genealogist, 46:55-65 (2007).
Mariquita was the adoptive grandmother of coauthor Vicente Martinez.