Apache Christ


The St Joseph Mission Church at Mescalero, New Mexico is a beautiful church undergoing restoration and with a warm story of it's mission to bring Christ to the Mescalero Apache people. I recently visited and noticed what I later found was a Robert Lentz icon of the Apache Christ above the altar, in the space usually reserved for Jesus. I came back to the Roman Catholic Church this past Easter and have been defending the faith with fervor. I have found no information on the authority under which the mission can place an Apache Medicine man in the stead of Jesus Christ. If there is, can someone please lead me in the right direction? If not, does anyone know how the icon was commissioned or whether it was simply a gift from Lentz to the mission? Since the Archbishop of Sante Fe is over the mission, does anyone know their position on the icon???

Teodoro Rodriguez


The problem isn't so much that it depicts Christ as a Apache as that is depicts Christ taking part in Apache medicine man rituals and religious rites, basicly it shows Christ engaging in pagan worship.

"Christ is depicted as a Mescalero holy man, greeting the sun of the fourth morning of the woman's puberty rites. These are the most sacred of the Apache ceremonies, celebrating the sanctity of the gift of producing new life. A sun symbol is painted on his left palm, and he holds a deer hoof rattle in his right hand. A basket at his feet holds an eagle feather, a grass brush, and bags of tobacco and cattail pollen -- items used in the rites."

I would write a letter to the Bishop if thsi was in my diocese.


you might email the priest and ask him first why?

then that could lead you to the next step.


Do you have a picture you can share?


Below is the site where the icon, and others, can be purchased. You can also google "apache christ" or "st joseph mescalero nm" and find related information.



Sadly, this is what happens when one does not understand the American Indians. :sad_yes: Just because a culture is alien to you it is classified as “Pagan.” Brother Lentz is an Icon artist and if you read more about him, you would not be quick to judge. I am of Mescalero Apache heritage and I enjoy the work. Yes, I am also Roman Catholic. Many American Indian cultures were very spiritual people and believed in ONE GOD. The only thing they did not know yet was our Lord Jesus. Unfortunately many Christians came with a “shove it down your throat” attitude instead of teaching the Gospel as Jesus did. :takeoff:Please forgive me, but it does aggravate me when one judges a culture because they are not “civilized.” Father De Smet who worked with a lot of the Lakota said it well in a reply on his opinion of the “savages,” “I have seen more savages in the cities of the East and in Europe than I have in the plains of the west.” Many thanks for the opportunity to speak. Peace and All Good and GOD Bless!

Timoteo Saldana Honesto, OFS:harp:


Old thread



The church has a long history of assimilating pagan icons, temples and key dates into its own usage. It's a long established practise

closed #9

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.