San Miguel Chapel

The San Miguel Chapel, an adobe Spanish colonial church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the oldest known church in the continental United States.

Interior of San Miguel Chapel

Built sometime between Santa Fe’s founding in 1610 (ten years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock) and its first documented reference in 1628, the church still celebrates Masses to this day.

Altar of San Miguel Chapel

The wooden altar screen, or reredos, is one of the oldest in New Mexico, according to the chapel's website. The inscription in the left-bottom corner reads: “This altar was erected through the piety of Don Jose Antonio Ortis in the year 1798.”

San Miguel Chapel in 1928

The chapel has gone through a number of restoration projects over the years.

Statue of San Miguel (St. Michael)

In the center of the altar screen is a statue of San Miguel (St. Michael), carved in Mexico around 1700 and was brought to Santa Fe by the Franciscan Friars.

Original artwork on altar screen

According to the church's website: "The four oval paintings on the reredos date from the early 18th century and originated in Colonial Mexico. The painting at the top left is St. Teresa of Avila; on the bottom left is St. Francis of Assisi. At the top right is St. Gertrude of Germany; on the bottom right is St. Louis IX, King of France."

17th-century buffalo skin painting of Christ

The church holds two paintings done by the Fransican Friars in about 1630. One, painted on buffalo hide, shows Christ on the Cross. The other is of St. John the Baptist. According to the church, they were used as teaching aids in the Friars' work converting the Pueblo Indians to Christianity.