Back Next San Esteban del Rey Mission, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico  


26 April 2003:  The church at Acoma, San Esteban del Rey Mission, dates from 1629. The church is difficult to photograph because photos are not permitted from the cemetery at the front of the church. The huge Ponderosa pine logs used to support the roof were brought from 30 miles away and were never allowed to touch the ground.You must visit Acoma to comprehend the magnificance of this building and the effort and dedication it took to construct it.

During the construction of the church, before the cemetery was available, bodies were buried in the thick walls of the mission. Perhaps you are wondering how there could be a cemtery in a place where the top of the mesa was solid rock. Over a number of years, the sand for the cemetery was hand-carried up the trails to the mesa top. When there was no room for further graves, a new layer of sand was added on top for another layer of graves. There are now five layers of graves at Acoma.