Exploring Abo Mission
1. MISSION SAN GREGORIO de ABO ... The chanting of voices and ringing of mission bells once echoed down this hushed valley. For over five hundred years, beginning in the early twelfth century, Tompiro-speaking Pueblo Indians prospered here.
From A.D. 1622 until about A.D. 1673 Franciscan priests also lived and worshipped here as they struggled to "civilize" and Christianize the Indians of this remote northern frontier of the Spanish Empire. But, just fifty short years after this encounter of these two vastly different cultures, both village and mission were empty.
Today, the crumbling walls of Mission San Gregorio de Abo stand silent vigil over the cactus-covered mounds of the ancient unexcavated pueblo.
2. TWO CHURCHES ... The church standing today is the second church of Abo. It was completed about 1651 by Fray Francisco de Acevedo. A much smaller first church was built on this site between 1622 and 1627 by Fray Francisco Fonte, Abo's founding father.
In New Mexico it was rare for more than one priest to be stationed at a mission. However, in 1629 Fray Acevedo arrived at Abo to assist Fonte when Abo assumed guardianship of the visitas (preaching stations) at several nearby pueblos. This made Abo the head of one of the largest missionary operations in New Mexico.
Acevedo stayed at Abo for thirty years. When he became guardian (head priest) in 1640, he was already convinced of Abo's need for a church more befitting such an important mission. Having earlier built churches at several nearby pueblos, he was an accomplished designer and builder. Rather than select a new site, as was customary, he chose to expand the existing church.
3. CENTER OF MISSION ACTIVITY ... This is the convento