San Albino Church, La Mesilla New Mexico

Extracted by, and copyright© 1998, 2009, 2016 Aaron Magdaleno

        The people of La Mesilla had always been under the leadership of the bishop in Durango, Mexico, however, a papal decree created the Vicariate Apostolic of New Mexico in 1850.  San Albino got its first permanent pastor, Padre Bernardino Hinojos, in 1852.    The Gadsden Purchase, 1853-4, added portions of present-day southern Arizona and New Mexico including La Mesilla.  Mesilla was transferred to the New Mexico diocese.  The shepherd of this new diocese was a Frenchman, Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.  By 1856, the primitive [mud and logs] structure [on the south side of the plaza] was replaced on the north side of the plaza by a traditional Mexican church, a fortress style providing protection from raids.  The Mexican-American War had just ended and land that belonged to Mexico would soon become part of the United States.  A group of refugees from present day northern New Mexico, Doña Ana County, and villages south of El Paso del Norte (now El Paso/Juarez) banded together under the direction of Cura Ramón Ortíz.    The priest was appointed by the government of Mexico to be Commissioner of Emigration to assist Mexican citizens who wanted to resettle in Mexican territory.  It was this band of settlers that arrived west of the Rio Bravo Grande del Norte to establish La Mesilla around 1850.  The settlers soon established a central plaza which included a Catholic church on the south side of the plaza. Constructed of mud and logs, this primitive structure was named San Albino.

Padre Ramón Ortíz

San Albino's Establishing Priest

Photograph of San Albino in the 1880's

Due to the French-European influence, the adobe structure with which the Mexican settlers were familiar was replaced in 1855-1857 with French architecture.  In 1872, San Albino parish became part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Arizona, under Frenchman, Rev. Jean B Salpointe

In [April] 1908, the present-day Romanesque church was dedicated.  It stands on the same site that the original church occupied on the north end of the plaza.

People departing following the April 12, 1908 dedication.  This is the Basilica structure in use today.

San Albino Dedication, April 12, 1908 - Following Dedication Mass

The brief history above contains excerpts from the 150th Anniversary leaflet and History of San Albino on the Plaza by Mary D. Taylor.