Writing from the Rite: Santa Fe

Seventy-six miles up from the Isleta Pueblo is Santa Fe, New Mexico (70 miles from Isleta Amphitheater to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis), the center of Cather's novel, and the place I visited in February 2008 when all of this was coming into alignment.  Death Comes for the Archbishop, first published 1927, is based on the lives and journals of the establishing bishop and priest in the vast Southwestern territory (all the way to the coast of California and up into Colorado at the beginning of the gold rush), the archbishop, J. B. Lamy, who built the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1869 to 1886, dedicated 1887.  According to BSW founding editor Lawrence Clark Powell, Willa Cather had stood at the statue of Lamy at the Cathedral in the village square and become inspired to write the novel.  That's the square where I stayed in Hotel St. Francis and was walking. 

 Archbishop Lamy's Statue outside the Cathedral, Santa Fe
Archbishop Lamy's Statue outside the Cathedral, Santa Fe
St. Francis of Assisi with Wolf Statue Santa Fe, NM
St. Francis of Assisi with a wolf like the BSW logo, outside Lamy's Cathedral
Santa Fe, NM; It was put in place in 1967


The trip to Santa Fe in 2008 was unknowingly on the day of the Grammy Awards, and also not realizing it was only feet from and was a clear view of the cathedral that would come to life for me through the novel when I began writing articles for BSW in its format as an on-line journal in 2013. That day I walked alone to the oldest church in the United States, San Miguel Mission, which was built c. 1610 over the site of a kiva (like where the sacred corn kernels would come from Isleta). It is also the site where “In 1859 Archbishop Jean Baptist Lamy purchased the Chapel and adjacent land for the De LaSalle Christian Brothers, who developed a school on the adjacent site.”  In 2008 I was working as a photographer at a river resort in Texas, and in walking around the square in Santa Fe I went into a camera shop which I discovered in 2019 was only steps away from the Cathedral, right out its front door on East San Francisco St.  (The next year, in 2009 I was in San Francisco.)

Santa Fe Camera Shop 1 September 2019
Santa Fe, 1 September 2019, Camera Shop
Santa Fe Camera Shop 1 September 2019
In addition to his cathedral, Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy also had Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe built which later became the site of the “miraculous staircase” built up to the choir loft (that was at first without a banister):
Jean Baptiste Lamy Loretto Chapel Miracle Staircase Santa Fe Photo by Shiloh Richter
Photo:  Shiloh Richter 1 September 2019
Two of the things my dad built in the last two years of his life:
Curved Arching Bridge built by my dad, Rawlyn Richter, in the last year of his life Shiloh Richter
Curved, arching bridge, Alpine, Texas (2017, the year I met John)
Curved banister built by Rawlyn Richter, my dad
Curved banister (2017), Alpine, Texas; My dad had the wood ready to make another one when he passed


Love Story
The cathedral houses "the oldest Madonna in what is now the United States":
The oldest Madonna in what is now the United States, Lamy's cathedral, Santa Fe
(Photo: Public Domain)  She was brought in 1626; According to Wikipedia, "La Conquistadora was given a new name in 1992; then-Archbishop Robert Sanchez gave her the new title of Our Lady of Peace. The name change has been ascribed to the need to ameliorate the tensions between the Spanish and the original inhabitants of the New World. She is also invoked as Our Lady of Conquering Love, which captures the spirit of the original title La Conquistadora."
In 1970, the year I was born, actress Ali MacGraw starred in the massive hit movie Love Story with Ryan O'Neal.  There are strange connections here in that Taylor Swift's first hit was "Tim McGraw" (2006) with "Love Story" (2008) the lead single on her second album. 
Love Story Movie Poster © Copyright 1970 Paramount Pictures Corporation
Love Story Movie Poster © Copyright 1970 Paramount Pictures Corporation
Love Story Movie Still © Copyright 1970 Paramount Pictures Corporation
Love Story Movie Still © Copyright 1970 Paramount Pictures Corporation
In 2010 Ali MacGraw, the star of Love Story, commissioned an elaborate dress for this La Conquistadora that went on display in September in Santa Fe, only one month before Taylor released stolen inspiration for lyrics of "the girl in the dress cried the whole way home" in her "Dear John."  The stolen ideas for the music video "Back to December" (the December when John took the stage with her) in February 2011 threatened John with an empty stadium in the snow.  Taylor's ideas were taken from John's "Dancing in a Burning Room" replacing it with snow, and from a screenplay scene I had written years ago that I wrote to John about in 2010 (that I write about in My Love Affair with Moonbeam), about a couple who kiss on a hotel bed and due to the passion, without them noticing, a cigarette lights the bed and the ceiling fire extinguishers come on, drenching them.  
The dress that Ali commissioned was inspired by Lady Jane Grey, the "Nine Days Queen" who was queen of England and Ireland upon the death of Edward VI and ruled from 10 July, my birth date, until 19 July 1553, in an attempt to usurp the Catholic Mary Tudor from taking the throne.  In a moment of showdown over what had become of the Reformation and in a stunning moment of ascendancy to the throne, instead of a male heir being in the line, there were nine females.  (When I was born I was the only female out of nine births in my generation in my father's family in Ohio where we lived.)  The throne would of course shortly go to Elizabeth I.
Lady Jane Movie (1986)   
Lady Jane (1986)
Lady Jane (1986)
Lady Jane (1986) directed by Sir Trevor Robert Nunn CBE "an English theatre director. Nunn has been the Artistic Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, and, currently, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. He has directed dramas for the stage, like Macbeth, as well as opera and musicals, such as Cats and Les Misérables."  The movie was released when I was 15 going on 16 and when U2 was recording Joshua Tree of which:  "recording began in January 1986 in Ireland" (Wikipedia).
According to Albuquerque Journal, the dress was also in part inspired by Anne Boleyn and Queen Isabella.  Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I's mother, was beheaded, and Queen Isabella was the mother of Catherine, "Bloody Mary's" mother.  Anne Boleyn is the one who took the place of Catherine as Henry VIII's wife.
The dress also had two hidden buttons of dogs, Scotties, like Queen Elizabeth II's beloved corgis.  Of this same icon, La Conquistadora,  "Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy's gift of a cape and apron-like scapular were sewn from heavy gold brocade and include a rosary sparkling with Swarovski crystals and a heart-shaped [emphasis mine] container of holy water from the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France" (Albuquerque Journal).
The importance of the water from France also comes from the revelation of what happens in the rite within the womb of the earth, importantly from France in Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave.  At the water is the meeting with the feminine and the eternal that I write about in Coyote Vol. II.  Madonna, one of the most formidable ground-breakers for women in popular culture by her refusing all the walls to rape her, enclose her, erase her, and quiet her, named her first daughter Lourdes, a living water.
Made partly of European olive wood, La Conquistadora received her "Papal Crown" in 1960 which "consists of 14-karat yellow gold, green gold, rose gold and silver accents, including a cross inlaid with turquoise and set with a 2.76-carat European-cut diamond. Rubies, turquoise, sapphires, amethysts, moonstones and more diamonds circle the base and glitter from its spires.  According to the Albuquerque Journal, in 1680 she had taken the road to El Paso del Norte and came back after 13 years marking what was a return to Santa Fe "without bloodshed" for the Spanish.  In September 2010, this collection of attire, of dresses and accouterments, were put on display for the first time only three months before my experience at the fountain in San Antonio and during which Taylor Swift mounted a "usurpation" on the public by releasing the untruthful Speak Now.
The Robes
Santa Fe corner shop window 1 September 2019 Shiloh Richter
Santa Fe corner shop window and reflection up from the cathedral,
1 September 2019
Last summer at the end of August I went on a road trip to watch John at Snowmass Jazz Festival in Aspen, Colorado, a beautiful experience in seeing his face in Aspen at the tops of the mountains in this little village and feeling such joy and incredible peace at seeing him perform close-up, getting to be there at the festival at the front, a miracle in itself due to thousands there wanting to be close.  The nature of Aspen was tremendous and Custard, my Yorkie, and I walked the wonderful trails by the rivers and picnicked outdoors.  I found Harry Styles' Rolling Stone and took him with us.  Standing next to me during the concert were a mother and daughter from Atlanta, Georgia, who had watched John from his early days.  I had taken the road trip without reservations of where to stay, thinking there would be somewhere, but when I got there the place had filled, and so Cus and I decided to camp out overnight.  And so after the concert, after a concert bus trip back to the car, on a pretty cool evening underneath a million clear stars, we camped out.  All I knew was that John was nearby somewhere, but close in presence.  It was wild and incredible.  (I'm always going hiking in the mountains, so my car was already packed with everything we needed.)
Aspen Co Rock with Hunter S. Thompson Quote
Aspen, CO
Aspen, CO 31 August 2019
Aspen, CO 31 August 2019
And so at the end of summer of having seen his face and felt the incredible peace that comes with that, of him being such a light, when I was driving back to New Mexico I stopped in Santa Fe to see Lamy’s cathedral and walk in his garden, as I had not actually been in the garden before. Directly up the road leading to the front door of the cathedral, E. San Francisco St., where I found the Camera Shop I had visited years before, I walked on to the corner and there in the window of the corner shop right with the cathedral in view were two Southwestern robes, a male and female one.



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