Scenic USA - New Mexico

Cristo Rey Church

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Cristo Rey Church - Sante Fe, New Mexico

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography

   The high desert around Santa Fe had always been a challenge for area farmers, and by the early Cristo Rey interior and stone retablo 1600s an irrigation canal (Acequia Madre) was built from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Fed with clear mountain water, Sante Fe grew over the years. Farmers and sheep herders expanded into the foothills further from town. By the 1930s, farmers walked over a mile to their church in the center of town. A gathering of church members petitioned the archdiocese for a church of their own.
   With architect John Gaw Meem accepting the challenge to create a new church design, members communicated their desire to include a huge stone retablo that had been in storage in a downtown cathedral. Proceeding with a promise of parishioner participation, John Meen created the Cristo Rey Church large enough to incorporate the stone altar screen (inset). Cristo Rey belltower Supported with walls up to nine feet thick, the 350 foot long church is thought to be the largest adobe building in the United States. Although the size of the church was unprecedented, the design incorporated perfect proportions and a graceful form of adobe construction.
   Located at the head of Upper Canyon Road, the Cristo Rey Church is said to be the finest example of Pueblo style architecture in Santa Fe. All along the bustling Canyon Road, visitors may experience two centuries of some of the finest adobe structures, art galleries and Southwest architecture.

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