History of the Church in American Southwest?

Can anyone recommend a book about the history of the Church in ‘New Spain’, specifically in the American southwest?

I remember reading to great satisfaction “The Man who Founded California” by Archbishop Couve de Murville. Perhaps, however, your interest goes beyond the era and area of influence of Saint Junipero Serra to include, for example, the Spanish missionaries of New Mexico and and Texas and further afield – or even Florida, which was part of New Spain of the 16th century.

Not a book, but this is the oldest church in the United States.

It is in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Here is a good book on the Church in New Mexico, edited by my (now deceased) friend, Father Steele S.J.
He was an expert on New Mexican hymns and Santos. He also has an excellent book documenting these woodcarvings.


I am visiting it in late September. :slight_smile:

Thank you! I will see if I can get it through interlibary loan.

One of my favorite books is “Lamy of Santa Fe” by Paul Horgan. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1976. Actually I consider it a double biography b/c it also goes into the life of Bishop Joseph Machebeuf of Denver. Between them you get coverage of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

Bishop Joseph also has two biographies:
One by the Rev. W. J. Howlett, which help inspire Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop”.
If you do a Google search for:
life of the right reverend bishop joseph p. machebeuf dd
you should come up with several online versions.

The other title is:
Death’s Deceiver: The Life of Joseph P. Machebeuf by Lynn Bridgers.


I’ve also read and would recommend the St. Junipero Serra book by Archbishop Couve de Murville. I remember being intrigued that an English archbishop would write a book on a California saint (my neck of the woods), but then realised that I who had such a devotion to an English blessed (John Henry Cardinal Newman) and visited the archbishop’s see of Birmingham, shouldn’t find it too odd! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the book suggestion, Father R.
Your inbox is full, btw.
Good to see you!

Well, it’s might be too broad in scope, but Puritan’s Empire by Charles A. Coulombe is a massive history of American Catholicism in all its aspects, including the original Catholics who settled America in the Southwest (and also Southeast - Florida, Louisiana etc.)

Great book - I have a lengthy review of it here:


Maybe this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for but Willa Cather’s classic “Death Comes for the Archbishop” might give you some of what you’re looking for!

I love “Death Comes for the Archbishop”. It is one of my favorite books.

There’s a lovely novel by Willa Cather called Death Comes for the Archbishop. It’s a fictional account of the first bishop in the New Mexico territory.

If you have the time, spend some time at Santuario De Chimayo as well. Extraordinary place!

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