San Miguel Chapel – The Oldest Church in the United States


Now this is what I was looking for! If you are in the southwest, enjoy the style and the frame or mix and match. This is a proper New Mexico chapel. The other two had style and were beautiful, but this feels more of the southwest where it’s located.

This is San Miguel Chapel. The oldest church in the United States. 

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From the outside it looks like it was made in the Southwest style and born of the very dirt and dust that surrounds it. It looks old, but this is actually a restoration job. New mud on old adobe bricks. Some may hesitate to find this out, it might make the church less in their minds, and occasionally I will be with them. Thankfully, today was not such a day.

I enjoyed the ‘touch up’ of the front of the building. It looks like it did when it was new, or close enough for me.


Remember this is mere blocks from Loretto Chapel which is venerable in it’s own right. You can actually see it back behind the sign on the left. However, when it’s a matter of age, San Miguel is the clear winner. It is the oldest church I have ever set foot in – 405 years old.

Mind you I hope to go to some older ones when I get the chance, but in order to do so – I would have to go to either Mexico or Europe. In Mexico the oldest is only a few decades older built in 1568 the cathedral de San Ildefonso in Marida. In Europe of course they go back quite a bit further.

The floor inside creaks, it’s a wood floor over the original dirt floor. It feels old and parts were left as original pieces that you might get a chance to see the age in the bones of this old chapel. Plexiglass was used to give a little window to the under floor. You could see the steps rising to the altar.

In the back was the original bell, build in the 1300s in Europe and brought over. If the church didn’t already leave you in awe of the number of centuries it had stood, perhaps the bell wouldn’t move you. But for me the age of this thing – it had survived the renaissance, the reformation, the trip from Europe to the colonies, the trip from where ever it landed in Mexico out to Santa Fe.

How could you not be moved? If the bell only had ears and a mouth, what stories it could tell. And the same could be said of the bricks and straw – the weathered adobe of San Miguel Church.




About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
This entry was posted in Church, Practices of Faith, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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