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Pay Homage to a Great American Author at a Santa Fe Cathedral

December 19, 2013 at 2:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

Although Willa Cather is mostly associated with the state of Nebraska, New Mexico can also claim a connection to this great American writer. The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, located in downtown Santa Fe near the plaza, serves as the backdrop for Cather's 1927 novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Though many of the events in the book are fictional, it's inspired by the true story of the French priest who came to the newly-named state of New Mexico to found an archdiocese. Jean-Baptiste Lamy was the real French priest on whom the story is based, and his legacy is still evident in the Land of Enchantment; there's even a town named Lamy after him.

Literary buffs/Cather fans will usually find helpful volunteers in the Cathedral who are happy to answer questions. Her birthday is December 7, but there's no organized event at the Cathderal.

Besides the Cather connection, there's plenty of other stuff worth seeing at St. Francis. There's a statue of Lamy, as well as a new one of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, "the lily of the Mohawks," a Native American woman canonized by Pope Benedict. As the first Native American to become a saint, Kateri is very popular in New Mexico and other parts of the country with strong Native populations.

Unlike the "mysterious stair" church a few blocks away, this cathedral is still a working church (hence the lack of a giant gift shop), so keep that in mind if you plan to stop by. Be respectful and quiet, and don't try to show up on a Sunday.

[Photo: RonCogswell]

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