Some of the great cultural treasures of America reside in the ancient churches of New Mexico and in the collection of the New Mexico History Museum. Created by santeros, the classical santero tradition of carving and painting religious artworks was rooted in New Mexico for most of the 1800s when Roman Catholics commissioned these devoted carvers to sculpt a santo or saint. Santos were found in churches, private chapels, and taken out for processions during holy days. While the tradition died out when religious images became commercially manufactured, the santero tradition saw a revival during the latter half of the 20th century.
New Mexico History Museum’s Curator, Josef Diaz, shares insights into the history of these treasures of devotion. Renowned contemporary santero, Ramón José López, takes us on a special visit to his family’s beautiful capilla and shares his thoughts about what keeps the santero tradition alive. Also featured are prayers recorded in northern New Mexico churches and sacred Spanish-language musical hymns Alabados de Abiquiu courtesy of Jack Loeffler’s oral history archives.