THE GREAT PECOS MISSION, 1540-2000
By Carol Paradise Decker
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The great Pecos Mission is now reduced to roofless red walls that loom over the surrounding countryside in Northern New Mexico. Each year thousands of visitors view the ruins and the earth-covered rubble of the pueblo it served. About 20 miles east of Santa Fe, the site is now protected by the National Park Service. But what was the role of the mission? What was its influence? Why does it still matter?
When Spanish explorers first visited Pecos in 1540, they described the pueblo of about 2,000 persons as the “biggest and best” of the Indian communities they had yet seen. This eastern pueblo dominated the pass through the mountains between the Great Plains and the Rio Grande valley, controlling travel and trade over a large area of what is now New Mexico.
In 1625, Franciscan missionaries completed the huge church at this site. From here they introduced Christianity and the heritage of medieval Spain, profoundly affecting the lives of the pueblo people. The church was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. Its foundations embrace the smaller church, finished in 1717, whose walls we see now.
This book brings you glimpses of people, events and the continuing significance of the old Pecos Mission.
Carol Paradise Decker moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico from New England in 1980. Since then she has taught Spanish, New Mexico Heritage, and Intercultural Relations to adult groups in many venues. For five years (1998–2003) she served as a volunteer at the Pecos National Historical Park. Her first book, Pecos Pueblo People Through the Ages, also from Sunstone Press, is a series of stories explaining how changing times affected the lives of the people. This new book shares some perspectives on the old mission itself.
6 x 9