Scattered throughout New Mexico, in cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as well as in small towns like Cordova, Las Trampas and El Rito, are dozens of historic mission churches. These adobe and stone structures date back to the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries, and many are in danger of collapse. A new non-profit, Nuevo Mexico Profundo, is helping to maintain and restore them. One of the founders, writer and historian Frank Graziano, joins us to talk about the organization's mission.
Frank's research on New Mexico's historic churches began a few years ago with a guidebook published in the 1990s. "When I started going out into the field to see these churches, I discovered that about a quarter of them had already fallen down." Nuevo Mexico Profundo aims to raise "awareness with the hope of attracting more financial assistance," says Frank. "And we're trying to diversify the uses of the churches. Some of them have two or three masses a year. Perhaps they could be used for other things that could enhance the community."
Frank discusses Nuevo Mexico Profundo in more detail in this longer version of the interview and talks about how the the ideas behind the organization are reflected in his book, Historic Churches of New Mexico Today, published last month by Oxford University Press.