In a previous posting, we briefly mentioned a very significant wooden statue on display in the Cathedral of Saint Francis. "La Conquistadora" ( commonly known as "Our Lady of Peace") is a thirty inch tall statue that was carved in Spain from willow, sometime between the 14th and 17th centuries (no exact date has ever been determined). It was brought to the Church of the Assumption (thus, its first name was "Our Lady of the Assumption"), by way of Mexico, in 1625, by Franciscan Friars. This makes it the oldest statue of the Madonna in the United States. As part of their adoration custom, the Spanish colonists began to costume the statue like the Queen of Spain. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spanish were able to save the statue as they evacuated the area. Twelve years later, the Spanish Governor De Vargas set out to reconquer Santa Fe under the banner of the Madonna. Beginning in 1694, the Spanish colonists began to hold an Annual procession through the streets of Santa Fe, with the statue, as thanks for "...her intercession..." in regaining the city with almost no bloodshed. By 1771, the statue became known as the "Queen of Heaven and the Kingdom of New Mexico and Santa Fe." It has undergone several other name changes over the years before settling on "La Conquistadora" ("Our Lady of Conquering Love"). For over three hundred years, the statue has been on display in a side chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
The next several photographs depict some of the 300 costumes that adorn the statue at various times during the year:
Archival photo of the annual procession giving thanks to La Conquistadora for her intercession during the 1692 reconquering of Santa Fe.