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Commentary About The Two Burials of Padre Martinez


by Vicente M. Martinez ©

Padre Martínez died on July 27, 1867.  According to burial records he was buried in his oratorio as he requested in his last will and testament.  The burial ceremony held on July 29, 1867 was officiated by Mariano de Jesús Lucero, his student, friend, and fellow excommunicated priest from Arroyo Hondo.
For many years, historians and Padre Martínez scholars have wondered about how the remains of Padre Martínez ended up at the Kit Carson Cemetery.  The only clue available was provided by Dora Ortiz Vásquez in her now out-of-print-book: Enchanted Temples of Taos: My Story of Rosario - Rydal Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1975. She stated:  “The Padre’s body remained buried at the foot of the altar in his church [oratory] for many years.  When his church was torn down, his body was taken out and again he had a solemn funeral, held in his memory.  This time his body was buried at the Kit Carson Cemetery” (p. 78).  The cemetery was previously known as the American Cemetery and the Taos Association Cemetery, and is located on lands acquired by Padre Martínez from Don Ignacio Martínez and  Felipe Sandoval in 1830.  In 1837 Padre Martínez donated a portion of this land to his housekeeper, María Teodora Romero, in payment for services rendered.  In 1847 he provided another plot of this land for the burial of the seventeen Americanos killed in the insurrection, hence the name American Cemetery.  In a deed dated August 12, 1889, María Teodora Romero sold for $20, a plot of land 45 feet by 32 feet to the Taos Cemetery Association and acknowledged a previous gift of ten yards of land to the Association. 

In October 2006, Rev. Tom Steele, S.J., of Albuquerque sent me a transcribed copy of an article that appeared in the June 25, 1891 edition of El Monitor, an early Taos newspaper, that described the reburial ceremony in detail.  This ceremony took place twenty-four years after his first burial in his oratory.  His remains were disinterred and taken in procession for reburial in the Taos Association Cemetery located immediately northeast of Taos Plaza and now known as Kit Carson Cemetery.

This second most solemn ceremony was described in detail in El Monitor as follows.  At the invitation of the Martínez family, the ceremonies began at the home of the late Santiago Valdez, also described as the padre’s last residence and place of burial.  The ceremony began with solemn Latin hymns sung by Inocencio Martínez, a nephew and student of Padre Martínez, and then followed by a procession towards the cemetery.  The casket was carried by the hermanos of the Society of San Antonio de Padua who sang an alabado as they marched.  Officiating at the obviously Protestant dominated gravesite services were Don Inocencio Valdez, Jr., Editor of El Monitor; Reverend Albert Jacobs, a Methodist minister serving Taos and southern Colorado; and Reverend [José] Domingo Mondragon, a Presbyterian Lay Minister, and Eulogio Montoya, a Taos Methodist  Church Elder, both converted contemporaries of Vicente Ferrer Romero.  Pedro Sanchéz, a student and nephew-in-law of Padre Martínez gave a heartfelt and eloquent eulogy. (This eulogy appears in Chapter X his book: Memorias Sobre la Vida del Presbítero Don Antonio José Martinez 1903) Readings included Job, Chapter VII [Job’s Life Seems Futile] and an excerpt from  “Death, the Gateway to Joy (La Muerte, Entrada al Gozo),”  a sermon by T. De Wit Talmage, D.D. (a noted nineteenth-century American Presbyterian preacher, writer and lecturer) that was read in English by Don Inocencio Valdéz, Jr. and in Spanish by Don Guillermo Martínez.  Don Malaquias Martínez, a son of Santiago Valdéz, spoke on behalf of the family expressing gratitude to the participants.

His grave was decorated with flowers, a railing, and a marble tombstone, or monument, with the following engraved inscription:

En Memoria del Presbitero D. Antonio José Martínez.
Cura de Taos N. Mexico.
Nació en 1793 el17 de Enero.
Murió el día 27 de Julio A.D. 1867.
La legislatura de Nuevo Méjico Ie llamó al tiempo de su muerte,
"La Honra de su país."
Sirvió la administración Espiritual por cuarenta y dos años. "


This paper was translated into Spanish and published by Jerry Padilla, Editor, El Crepúsculo/The Taos News June 21, 2007




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