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Archbishop Lamy’s Description of Catholic New Mexico

Event: 1866

"In New Mexico we have only the most rigorously necessary things for our existence, as bread and meat. There are no factories of any kind here. The majority of the inhabitants raise sheep and cattle and horses, but they get very little profit out of it. It may be for lack of a market or on account of the savage Indians who steal the flocks, kill the shepherds or take them prisoner... New Mexico is the most populated of the three territories that to this day comprise the Diocese of Santa Fe; we have 110,000 Mexicans and 15,000 Catholic Indians. Colorado has 10,000 Catholics in a settlement of 40,000 souls. Arizona has 8,000 Catholics. The present number of our Priests in missions is 41, five in charge of Colorado, three in Arizona, the rest in New Mexico. I have made three pastoral visits into Colorado, and only one into Arizona, but this took me six months, from the 1st of November 1863 to the 1st of May 1864. I traveled over a thousand leagues on horseback. In some places we had to sleep under the moon and to travel spaces from 20 to 25 leagues without a drop of water, walking to rest my horse. But we find ourselves rewarded for all this hardship, at finding such faithful souls. Not having seen a priest for many years, they take advantage of the visits of the missionary to receive the Sacraments with fervor and gratitude....

Until now, communication between New Mexico and the rest of the United States is difficult and transportation very costly. But railroads are building in the west in California; and from the east in Missouri and Texas. As soon as these are established, the working of the mines, the raising of the flocks, the cultivation of vineyards, will change entirely the condition of things. We will be able to employ laborers at more reasonable wages, construct houses and churches as in the east. We may probably see factories established in this country, where wool is to be obtained in great abundance. In this general increase of resources, this mission will without doubt find extension and a way of sustaining the great, heavy loads, which are always found in new undertakings. Providence will never abandon us, and the Order of the Propagation of the Faith, will, as we hope, continue to help us as heretofore, since the beginning of this See in Santa Fe, of which despite our personal unworthiness we have the honor to be the first Bishop."

Sources used: Louis H. Warner, Archbishop Lamy: An Epoch Maker, Santa Fe, 1936.