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Socorro, New Mexico, USA
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SOCORRO'S SAN MIGUEL CHURCH TIME LINE
Most documentation on the early churches were recorded by the Franciscan friars, with a fairly detailed report by Bishop Benavidez in 1626 being an excellent reference. Most other documents were often sketchy with period of years between reports, such that the early history of most mission churches, including San Miguel, is well known in places and assumed in others.

The following is the assumed San Miguel Church timeline based on known documentation, assumed history, and church traditions.
1598   Juan de Oñate arrives at Teypana pueblo; people rename it to
          Socorro for the help and assistance received. Two Franciscans
           stayed to minister to the Piros, but no church known to have been
           built. Teypana was south of Luis Lopez -- not today's Socorro.
1600s Franciscan friars, most from Isleta pueblo, visited the Piro pueblos
           periodically for the Christianization effort and conducting mass.
1615   Congregation formed.  The first full-time priest was assigned to
           Socorro, stationed at Pilabo (today's Socorro) to serve all of the
           Piro pueblos.  This is the traditional start date of the Socorro
           mission; little evidence that a mission church or convento was
           built at this time, the priest living in pueblo quarters.
1620   Reducción, the Spanish resettlement program, consolidated the
           native population into fewer pueblos for better control; selected
           Sevilleta (La Joya), Pilabo (Socorro) and Senecú (San Marcial) as
           the mission pueblos of the Piro nation.  All other pueblos were
           ordered abandoned; people from Teypana relocated to Pilabo,
           bringing the name Socorro with them.  Construction of the
           mission in Pilabo (today's Socorro) likely began around this time.
1626   Bishop Alonso de Benevidez returns to Mexico City along El
           Camino Real enroute to Spain.  Dedicated the mission while in
           Socorro, naming it Nuestra Señora del Socorro (Our Lady of
           Perpetual Help).  It is assumed the Socorro mission's construction
           was fairly underway, if not completed, when dedicated in 1626.
1630-80  Pueblo of Socorro (Pilabo) and the church continued to grow.
1680   The Pueblo Revolt forced the Spaniards out of New Mexico,
           retreating south to El Paso on the Rio Grande.  The Piros also fled,
           leaving Socorro and the church abandoned.
1692   Don Diego de Vargas reoccupies New Mexico, camping the
           night in Socorro and described the pueblo and church as "in ruins."
1760   Bishop Tamarón arrives New Mexico, camps on hill opposite
           Socorro.  Records he could see the old orchards of Socorro and
           ruins of the mission.
 
Settlement between Belen and Doña Ana was prohibited after the Pueblo Revolt as Spain could not protect the region, called Apacheria, from Indian attacks. Socorro remained abandoned until resettlement was opened in 1800.
 
1800   Resettlement of Socorro approved; first families arrived
           1800-1806 to settle and rebuild the town.  Rebuilding the old
           ruined church began during this time -- exact date unknown. 
 
San Miguel Church.  Tradition states early townspeople took refuge in the church during an Apache raid.  An apparition of archangel Michael weilding a sword protected the people and drove off the attacking Indians.  The Nuestra Señora del Socorro church was renamed San Miguel in honor of Saint Michael's protection of the church.
 
1851   San Miguel visited by Bishop Lamy enroute to Santa Fe.
1864   Fr. Benedict Bernard welcomes Bishop Lamy to San Miguel
           parish.
1869   Renovation added the two bell towers (per church history).
           NOTE: the diary sketch of the church by Confederate soldier Pvt.
           A. B. Peticolas clearly shows the "French style" bell towers were
           extant in 1862.
1870s The pitched roof and the front stained glass window were added.
1879   Sisters of Loretto arrived to build a parish school building, which
           served Socorro until 1970.  The north side chapel was added and
           other renovations were performed about this time.
1880s Today's facade was added, bell towers replaced with the territorial
           style, followed by further renovations to the church.
1973   Extensive renovation to San Miguel interior with new woodwork
           and vigas, spiral stair case to choir loft and strengthening adobe
           walls.  Evidence of original church found by archaeolists, including
           original mission wall, foundations, burned vigas when church was
           burned in 1680, and skeletons and graves under floor boards.
2003   Courtyard built in front of church to honor the many parishoners
           buriedin the ancient camposanto; grave markers and cross added
           later.
 
 
 
 
 
 
2010   Church closed.  Structural problems (mostly within the adobe
           load bearing walls, roof, and bell towers) close the church
           pending major repairs; services moved to Parish Hall.  Extensive
           repairs, renovation, and preservation of the historic integrity of
           the church continues until 2015 under direction of parish priest,
           Fr. Andrew Pavlik.
2015   San Miguel Church reopens and rededicated after five years
           of extensiverepairs, and just in time for . . .
2015   400th Anniversary of the Socorro mission church with the
           original congregation formed in 1615 and the original Nuestra
          Señora del Socorro mission church built shortly after that,
           dedicated in 1626.
sm001013.jpg
Oldest known image of Socorro's San Miguel Church
drawn by Confederate soldier Albert Peticolas on Feb. 26, 1864 while passing through Socorro after the Battle of Valverde.
Sketch shows the original flat roof and "French style" towers. Pitch roof was added early 1870s; today's bell towers were built 1880s.
sm001011.jpg sm001010.jpg
Click here for San Miguel Book of the
Solemn Rededication on May 19, 1974.
 
Book was published following extensive renovation 1972-1974 with church history, photos of the renovation and archaeological findings, and area mission churches.
sm001009.jpg
Click here for the San Miguel Photo Gallery
 
> Historic photos of the church
> Present day photos of the church
> Photos of the 2010-2015 repairs 
sm001008.jpg sm001007.jpg sm001006.jpg
Sanborn Insurance Maps
showing San Miguel church, Mt. Carmel Convent, acequia Madre, and other surrounding features over the years.
Click maps to enlarge
1898
1902
1913
Mission Church History 
History articles by Paul Harden on the mission churches under the Socorro Parish and related church history.
 
Mission Churches Part 1 - Socorro Mission, Santa Rita
        church (Riley),  and  Our Lady of Fatima church (Florida)
             
Mission Churches Part 2 - San Acacia, La Joyita, Alamillo,
        Polvadera, Lemitar, Sabino, La Parida, El Tajo,
        Bosquecito, Luis Lopez, San Antonio, San Antonito,
        San Marcial, La Plaza Vieja, Magdalena, Kelly
 
Legend of the Blue Nun - the mystical appearance of a
        Franciscan nun in the 1600s - including in Socorro.
 
Las Posadas y Las Pastorela - History of these old Spanish
        traditional pagents to tell the Christmas story.
 
Lemitar y La Sagrada Church - the history of Lemitar and the
        building of the La Sagrada Family Church.
 
Polvadera y Chamisal - the history of Polvara and Chamisal,
        and the San Lorenzo church.
 
 
 
Photo Gallery
On this page:
SAN MIGUEL HISTORY & TIMELINE
Links:
SAN MIGUEL PHOTO GALLERY
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