San Francisco de Asis
Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, USA
The parish's unique architecture has made it one of the most photographed churches in the United States. However, our artistic heritage, especially as an expression of our faith, runs much deeper. The San Francisco de Asis church building itself can be said to be a living work of art, and its endurance itself is a testament to the faith and the community effort of the people who have cared for it over many generations.
As traditional adobe construction dating from the 18th century, the building must be renewed yearly by fresh coats of mud plaster, lest the structure begin to erode and become again the simple earth from which it was built. This periodic re-mudding, called an enjaere in Spanish, is an enormous labor of love from all who participate. While an activity of the parish and the Ranchos de Taos community, opportunities to join in this faith-filled work of living history arise every year. XX
1772 and 1816
Completed in 1816, the San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church is a large, sculpted Spanish Colonial church with massive adobe buttresses and two front-facing bell towers. The architecture of the church is an impressive blend of native and Spanish styles. Three white crosses adorn the two towers and church entranceway. Four “beehive” shaped buttresses support the back of the church structure and two buttresses in front of each bell tower support the front.2
Because of its imposing form and sculpted body, the church is a favorite subject for artists. Ansel Adams photographed the church for his Taos Pueblo art book and Georgia O’Keeffe painted a series of perspectives of the church. O’Keeffe once described it as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.”3
See Tabs: (Resources / Website / Image Resources) for common image sources.