Stained Glass Windows of Sacred Heart Cathedral
One of the stained glass windows on the North side chapel in the Cathedral depicts Fray Juan Ramirez, who is considered the Evangelist to the Acoma people. The pueblo village of “Sky City” is reputed to be the oldest continually occupied place in the what is now the U.S., a thousand or more years.
Declining an escort of soldiers and with “no other weapon than the crucifix”, Ramirez climbed up to the city. The Acoma people initially tried to repel the friar. How Ramirez was able to peacefully enter the Acoma village and have the people build the church is an interesting story. Some sources tell the story of Juan Ramirez entering the Acoma village saying he was initially greeted with a shower of arrows to deter him from entering the village. The sheer cliff shielded him as he ascended the mesa. A young girl was believed to have fallen off the mesa during the event to what seemed like certain death. Ramirez made it to the top with the girl still alive, which was perceived to be a miracle, and the Acoma people were much more willing to let the friar talk to them about Catholicism after the incident. They worked with him relatively peacefully during his time as friar of the Acoma, and many Acoma people became legitimate converts to Catholicism, although many of them retained many of their former religious traditions.The Church of San Estevan Rey was built in the friar’s time at the pueblo, completed around 1629 making it the oldest church what is now the Diocese of Gallup.