Jemez Monument Churchyard Cemetery, Jemez Springs, Sandoval County, New Mexico

San Jose de Los Jemez Mission Campo Santo; ca. 1621-22 In front of the church is a level open space (about 120’ x 75’) occupied by the church cemetery or campo santo. Traditionally at Spanish colonial Franciscan missions in New Mexico, Christian converts were buried in such cemeteries, which were enclosed by low walls. Today, the campo santo is covered with dirt, gravel, and patches of native grass. It has never been excavated and is intact.

This is information about Jemez Monument Churchyard Cemetery in Jemez Springs, Sandoval County, New Mexico.

History of the Jemez Monument

Approximately 700 years ago, ancestors of the present day people of Jémez (Walatowa) Pueblo, constructed a large pueblo in the narrow San Diego Canyon and called it “Giusewa,” a Towa word that refers to the many hot springs found nearby. They lived peacefully for many generations.

Franciscan missionaries accompanied the Spanish colonization. Their mission, the conversion of native peoples to Christianity, was peaceful in intent but often forceful in practice. The Franciscans believed native religions were demonic. They banned native rituals and destroyed many traditional Pueblo religious structures.

Between 1621 and 1625, the Franciscans designed a massive, stone-walled church and convento (priests quarters) at Giusewa. They named their church San José de los Jémez. This mission complex was constructed with Pueblo labor. The church is unusual for its massive size and rare, octagonal bell tower. Colorful frescos that once decorated the interior walls were revealed during archaeological excavations in 1921 and 1922.

San José de los Jémez was abandoned by 1640, likely as a result of forced labor and religious persecution by the Spanish. The pueblo of Giusewa was occupied until the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish in 1680, when the Jémez people abandoned it and relocated to more defensible sites in nearby mesas.

Cemetery: Jemez Monument Churchyard Cemetery
San Jose de Los Jemez Mission Churchyard
GPS: N 35.77838   W 106.68677
County: Sandoval County
The Mission is at the N end of Jemez Springs on the East side of NM 4, set back, across highway from Mary Mother of Priests Catholic Church.