Archbishop Lamy: In His Own Words
Translated and edited by Thomas J. Steele, S.J.
Foreword by Janice Schuetz & Andrew Burgess, University of New Mexico
Afterword by the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe
5-1/2 x 8-1/2
290 pages; 8 black-and-white photographs
HARDCOVER 1-890689-04-1 $29.95
SOFTCOVER 1-890689-10-6 $19.95
On July 23, 1850, Pope Pius IX named Jean Baptiste Lamy as the first Vicar of the new Vicariate-Apostolic in Santa Fe -- a diocese in the process of formation.
One hundred and fifty years later, Archbishop Lamy: In His Own Words dispels many of the myths surrounding this first Archbishop of Santa Fe. Noted scholar, student of New Mexican culture, and teacher Father Tom Steele has tracked down all of the existing manuscript sermons of Jean Baptiste Lamy (1814-88), the first Bishop of Santa Fe and the original of the title character of Willa Cather's novel Death Comes for the Archbishop. Lamy has been the subject of devotion, rumor, and attack for over a hundred years. In this book, Steele selects important and characteristic sermons and uses them to decipher the real Lamy, public and private. This book builds on previous scholarly work about Lamy, including Paul Horgan's Lamy of Santa Fe, and presents new information and insight based on Lamy's own writings. The book takes Lamy's writings and documented history and uses them to create a psychological profile of the Archbishop. Steele has also written Santos & Saints, The Regis Santos, and New Mexican Spanish Religious Oratory.
Ever since the 1927 release of Willa Cather's romantic novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, people have had a somewhat distorted and confused view of who Lamy really was and what he really accomplished during his thirty-eight years as the head of spiritual life on the frontier.
Steele has uncovered and translated over 250 texts by Lamy allowing us for the first time to decide for ourselves who was the real Lamy.
As first Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptiste Lamy (1814-1888) left a divided legacy. Perhaps no figure in New Mexico history has provoked so much controversy, criticism, and devotion as Lamy. In this book Thomas Steele, S.J., known for his substantial scholarship in New Mexican culture and religious tradition, excavates the real Lamy from myth and fiction.
Steele does so in two ways, each corresponding to a section in the book. First, he challenges the fictional portrait of Lamy presented by Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. Contexting his life through historical analysis of the French ecclesiastical culture that produced him, Steele then profiles Lamy and explores his spirituality. Secondly, Steele examined existing manuscripts of Lamy's sermons and selected characteristic sermons to create a facsimile of the liturgical cycle during which Lamy usually preached. Steele uses the sermons to allow us see Lamy "in his own words."
One of the most intriguing chapters explores Lamy's psychological profile. The portrait emerging of Lamy, as an extroverted guardian with a strong sense of adventure and great respect for authority, stands in stark contrast to the introverted, intuitive soul of Jean Marie Latour, the title character in Cather's book. Steele's research suggests that Latour's personality actually reflected Cather's personality more than Lamy's. Since Lamy's personality has so long been hidden behind Latour's, Steele constructs a more accurate portrayal through the profile, elements of his spirituality, and the voice emerging from the sermons.
The sermons themselves are presented in two sections. Steele has selected representative sermons in English, most of which are from Lamy's time on the Ohio frontier, in Covington, Kentucky and Danville, Ohio. They give us a glimpse of the younger Lamy, before the demands of the episcopacy added political undercurrents to his pastoral duties. In the second section of sermons, Steele has selected representative sermons in Spanish, presenting them alongside the English translation. Here we see Lamy as he preached in New Mexico -- deeply grounded in Scripture, urging his listeners to "conform to the rules of this very faith," seeking the "grace of God in this life and a blest eternity in the other" (169).
Those seeking the romanticized version of Lamy that captured popular imagination will find little to support that fantasy in Steele's book. We find instead a portrait of Lamy that consistently reflects what his Sulpician formation in the Grande Seminaire de Montferrand hoped to instill, the characteristics of a generation of French priests who so shaped nineteenth century American Catholicism. Lamy was fond of elaborate devotional practices, dutiful, obedient, respectful of authority, and somewhat dualistic, with Jansenist tendencies not too far beneath the surface of his spirituality. He was also, however, a figure who has intrigued and challenged us for over a century, and continues to do so.
Students of New Mexican history will find an interesting perspective on the motivation behind some of Lamy's more controversial acts, but this volume will also be helpful to those pursing larger questions in terms of nineteenth century religious history. A fully searchable CD-ROM (for both PC and Mac) of Lamy's complete sermons in English and Spanish is also available. -- Catholic Historical Review, Spring 2004
Noted scholar Thomas J. Steele, S.J., has compiled an examination of nineteenth-century archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, who established the American Catholic Church in New Mexico following the Anglo-American takeover of the present Southwest of the United States. Although Lamy has not been accepted traditionally by Hispanic in New Mexico, as he is viewed as the destroyer of the Mexican Church in the area, Father Steele's work on Lamy -- along with his sermons -- presents a balanced image of the archbishop and his work. Steele's book commemorates the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the appointment of Lamy as the first vicar of New Mexico. Examples of Lamy's sermons are included in Spanish and English. Additionally, LPD Press has published all of Lamy's sermons on CD-ROM under a separate title, "The Complete Sermons of Jean Baptiste Lamy," as a companion to this book. Thomas Steele's work is highly recommended to those interested in the life of Lamy and his efforts in the nineteenth-century Territorial period of New Mexico. -- Colonial Latin American Historical Review, Spring 2000
Thomas J. Steele, S.J., has two primary intentions in this new volume on the first archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptiste Lamy (1814-1888). His first goal is to assess methodically the personality of Lamy through the use of the psychological profiling technique known as the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. Steele asserts that this method is necessary because Lamy has become confused in the popular mind with Willa Cather's Archbishop Latour in Death Comes for the Archbishop. Through the use of the Myers-Briggs technique, Steele concludes that the fictional Latour is actually more akin to Cather's own personality than to Lamy's. Relying significantly on his interpretation of over thirty of Lamy's extant sermons and other documentary evidence, Steele finds Lamy's personality similar to that of an ESTJ: Extravert (friendly and accessible), Sensor (an empiricist), Thinker (a rationalist), and Judger (one with strict ethical standards).
These Myers-Briggs findings are important to Steele's second goal: an evaluation of Lamy's historical legacy. According to the author, there are two historiographical interpretations of Lamy -- a positive one in which Lamy is viewed as important to the "happy progress" of New Mexico (p.5), and a more negative one as someone "who is blamed" for the loss of New Mexico's Hispanic traditions (p.5). Steele finds that Lamy's place is somewhere in between. Thus, for example, as an ESTJ-type, Lamy supported policies promoting New Mexico's incorporation into the economic system of the United States. Toward Penitentes, however, Lamy neither encouraged nor attacked them; he dealt with them from a perspective of uneasy toleration.
While Steele's conclusions regarding Lamy as hardly surprising, the reader has a splendid time getting there. Steele builds his case by examining the various important elements including both Lamy's and Cather's backgrounds, a summary of Lamy's career, and the spiritual traditions and training that formed Lamy's religious views. He discusses the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory methodology and what Lamy's sermons and the public record reveals in that regard. Steele next relates several incidents important to Lamy's record, such as his treatment of padre Antonio Jose Martinez and how the archbishop's personality influenced those actions. Finally, the sermons themselves offer a portal into Lamy's mind and world, while providing an important primary source for nineteenth-century scholars.
A particular strength of the book is Steele's readable prose. His style is concise, clear, and frequently witty. From the title one would not expect to have the ocassion to laugh out aloud, but this reader did. One of the more humorous segments was Steele's relation of how Cather was inspired by Lamy's statue at the Santa Fe Cathedral. Steele writes, "Willa played Pygmalion to a statue -- and here come 'My Fair Lamy.'" (p.19)
One must be somewhat cautious here. That the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory is but one model available in psychological profiling is obvious. Even more problematic and troubling is the modern assumption that historians, using very limited resources, may successfully probe the psyche of an individual long dead. Nonetheless, Steele's efforts here have much to be commended. -- New Mexico Historical Review, Volume 78, No. 1, Winter 2003
Thomas Steele has spent more than 30 years researching and writing about the devotional history of New Mexico. He currently teaches part-time at the University of New Mexico and directs the collection of New Mexican santos at Regis University in Denver. In his 80-page introduction to this book, he describes how different Lamy was from the title character in Willa Cather's novel Death Comes to the Archbishop and reveals the real Lamy, public and private. There follows a selection of Lamy's sermons with English translations on facing pages of those that are in Spanish. Also available is a CD-ROM of more than 250 sermons in Spanish, French, and English, with translations where needed. The CD, which would be more than 1,200 pages in book form, will work with both PCs and Mac computers. -- Theology Digest, Volume 47, No. 4, Winter 2000
Collections of sermons are rarely published as historical documents, but when the sermons were written by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, and when they are analyzed by Jesuit Father Thomas J. Steele, the result is a major contribution to the historical literature of New Mexico. Steele located about 250 of Lamy's sermons, and 33 of them are reproduced in this book (all 250 are included on the CD-ROM). Steele considers at some length the differences between the historical Lamy and Willa Cather's fictional Archbishop Latour. He shows by means of psychological profiles that Cather gave to Latour her own personal characteristics, rather than those of Lamy. Many of the sermons were written in Spanish, and both the original Spanish and an English translation are included. With all that has been written about Archbishop Lamy, reading his own words in the form of these sermons will give the reader the closest view possible of the heart and soul of the man. -- New Mexico Book League Book Talk, Vol. XXX, No. 1, January 2001
A jewel. -- Albuquerque Journal, February 17, 2001
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS BOOK
This is a most unusual and extraordinary book. Father Steele's analysis of Lamy's personality and his even-handed critique of Willa Cather's Lamy novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, seem right on target. The publication of Lamy's sermons reveals much about the man's inner world and motivation. An important contribution to the history of New Mexico and the Southwest. -- Dr. Marc Simmons, historian
Father Steele delves into the fog of a controversial figure and finds him. This work on Lamy, with his sermons, is at once balanced and very, very intelligent. Any real student of the time and subject will quickly realize the necessity of having this book handy. -- Dr. Thomas Chavez, Director, Palace of the Governors
Finally, we have a definitive work on Archbishop Lamy! Through the use of Lamy's own sermons, the author dispels the rumors and confusion that have surrounded Lamy since the writings of Willa Cather. You, the reader, are free to decide who was the real Lamy. Steele has given New Mexican historians a jewel. -- Dr. Margaret Espinosa McDonald, President, New Mexico Historical Society
Father Thomas J. Steele has been a respected member of the Regis University English Department faculty for thirty years. Tom has also curated the Regis University Collection of New Mexican santos as well as a small collection of Native American artifacts, both housed at the Dayton Memorial Library on the Regis University Campus. He is most known for Santos & Saints (Ancient City Press) first published in 1974 and now in its third edition. His other writings cover a wide range of topics ranging from English literature, Hispanic religious history of New Mexico, and the history of the Southwest.
Father Steele currently resides in Albuquerque at the Immaculate Conception Parish. He is still actively researching the santos of New Mexico and writing on topics of historical interest. He also teaches part-time at the University of New Mexico on the religious history of New Mexico. Tom still haunts the antique stores of Canyon Road and Central Avenue looking for santos to rehabilitate and add to the Regis Collection.