Los Penitentes
The Penitente society, also known as La Fraternidad Piadosa de Nuestro Padre Jesus (The Pious Fraternity
of our Lord Jesus) is a brotherhood of Hispanic, Catholic laymen.  This society has been traced by some
scholars to thirteenth century Europe and other researchers  have associated  the
Hermanos (Brothers)  
with the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi.  The Penitentes are said to have made their way from Mexico
into New Mexico in the late sixteenth century and settled in southern Colorado in the 1800's.  The adobe
buildings used for worship and meetings (
moradas) by the Hermanos can still be found in northern New
Mexico and southern Colorado.  Although their membership is waning, the Fraternity is still very active in
religious affairs and assisting their members in times of spiritual and economic need.   Ruben Archuleta
has documented the Penitente's activities, rituals, rosters with over six hundred members, and
numerous color and black and white photos in his two Penitente books:
Land of the Penitentes, Land of Tradition and Penitente Renaissance, Manifesting Hope The books may
be ordered by clicking on the
order form page.
The author's great-grandfather and grandfather were Penitentes from southern Colorado
and northern New Mexico. Jose Pablo Archuleta, on the left, was born in Arroyo Hondo, NM,
1838 and his son, Francisco Antonio Archuleta, was born in San Cristobal, NM in 1883.
White pants, black hood and cross used by the Hermanos
(Brothers) during Holy week at the Moradas.
Corporate seal from the Morada del Centro,
Territory of New Mexico
Hermano (Brother) Maclovio Martinez lighting a candle
at the Morada de San Antonio, Colorado
Santos at the Morada de San Antonio, CO.
Joseph Romero, leads the Encuentro (Procession) during
Good Friday at the Morada de San Antonio, Colorado
Penitente cross and adobe morada ruins
west of Trinidad, Colorado. This photo
taken by Ruben Archuleta appears on the
cover of
Marranos on the Moradas by New
Zealand author Norman Simms.
La Carreta de la Muerte (Death Cart)
ridden by
Dona Sebastiana may be
seen in the
moradas throughout
southern Colorado and northern New
Mexico.  This large carreta was
created by Ruben Archuleta
El Encuentro (the procession) takes place on Good Friday.  Here
Hermanos from the San Antonio, CO, morada carry the
life-size statue of Jesus to
El Calvario (Mt. Calvary) as they pray
and sing a
labados (hymns)
The Veronicas carrying the statue of Mary are
followed by Father Benito and community
participants as they sing their hymns and join
in prayer.  They will meet with the
Hermanos at
El Calavario, pray together and then work their
way back to the morada to conclude their
Good Friday services.
The Horseman leads El Encuentro back towards
morada where participants will take part in the
Stations of the Cross.  Ruben Archuleta, pictured
in the front left, was allowed to participate with the
Hermanos in carrying the statue of Jesus
Father Benito blessing the Crucifix which was
sculpted and donated to the San Antonio Morada
by Ruben Archuleta.  
Hermano Mayor (Elder
Brother), Charlie Martinez, is holding the crucifix.