Religion and New Mexico

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Living Shrines: Home Altars of New Mexico

Marie Romero Cash
Photographs by Siegfried Halus

The tradition of home shrines first began evolving in the American Southwest during the Mexican colonial period, when priests often traveled to homes to perform mass, novenas, baptisms, and marriages, a practice that continues today. This colorful book features the personal altars of mostly Hispanic families living in the towns and villages of northern New Mexico. Most are devoutly Catholic, and although Roman Catholic dogma does not officially recognize home shrines, the altar tradition for most Hispanos is a sign of being "Catholic from the heart." Their private altars allow for devotion in daily life, a practice embraced by those of all beliefs who desire personal sacred places to meditate, pray, or reflect. These portraits will serve as an inspiration for even the least devout among us desiring more spirituality in our lives.


Marie Romero Cash was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the daughter of nationally recognized tinsmiths Emilio and Senaida Romero. She is a practicing folk artist, and in 1987 she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to survey and document pieces of Spanish colonial art.

Siegfried Halus is the former chairman of the art department at Santa Fe Community College and a lifelong teacher of photography. He has been exhibited and published widely in the United States and Europe. His photography is included in several books, including In Search of Dominguez & Escalante: Photographing the 1776 Spanish Expedition Through the Southwest (Museum of New Mexico Press).

Lucy R. Lippard is the author of twenty books on art and cultural criticism, including Down Country: The Tano of the Galisteo Basin, 12501782, winner of the 2011 Caroline Bancroft History Prize and the Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez Award, and The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society.

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

9 x 12 in. 124 pages 80 color plates