Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 28, 2007
Cross-shaped church offers quiet ambience
Adobe brick church houses wooden carving of the mysterious child of the South
St. Thomas – July 3
By TED FITZGERALD
The much-photographed parish church is a real gem, cross-shaped in plan with a flat roof.
In 1887, the church was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, but by 1930 had fallen into disrepair. Then, in 1937, the people provided the labour and 48,000 adobe bricks to begin construction of today's Santo Tomas de Abiquiu Church, dedicated to both patrons.
Other materials were supplied by the Society for the Preservation of New Mexican Mission Churches.
The much-photographed parish church is a real gem, cross-shaped in plan with a flat roof. The façade includes a portal with an ornamental balcony above the front entrance beneath an opening for two small bells.
Those approaching the church pass a large plain white wooden cross and enter through a wrought-iron gate in the traditional low adobe wall that surrounds the grounds.
Visitors walk between two small glass windows that portray the church's co-patrons at the front entrance.
Inside, other than during services, the dimly lit sanctuary is half-illuminated by just eight windows set into the thick adobe walls that limit exterior heat in this near-desert environment, but at the same time allow for a quiet, restful, meditative ambience.
Statues of the parish patrons flank the main altar, while others portraying the Sacred Heart and Our Lady occupy the transept corners further out.
Noteworthy too are colourful wooden carvings of popular El Santo Nino de Atocha, the famed mysterious child of the Southwest and a primitive santo of the prophet Ezekiel holding a fish.
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish serves not only the Abiquiu church, but also seven other communities with rotating weekday Masses. The Eucharist is celebrated six times on weekends.
The church also houses a busy schedule of church and lay activities particularly at Christmas time when a full schedule of nine Posadas - processions that recall in song and prayer the Holy Family's search for accommodation on the first Christmas.
The feast days of Santo Tomas (July 3) and Santa Rosa (Aug. 23) are also enthusiastically celebrated here.
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