San Juan Bautista Monument

Casa de Cura/Convento


In 1879, an adobe dwelling was built east of the San Juan Bautista church as a casa de cura (rectory) for Jesuit Priests of the Society of Jesus. Later, it served as a convento (convent) for the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. The four-room residence originally housed the religious who ministered to Catholics living in the area and, in later years, it was the family home of a caretaker who maintained the church and cemetery.


The last remaining wall of this dwelling has been preserved as the San Juan Bautista Monument and dedicated to the courageous Hispano people who settled in La Garita and to the Priests and Sisters that supported them in their Catholic faith.  It is also dedicated to the Penitentes who helped keep the Catholic faith alive in the absence of priests during the early settlement. 


As part of Father Joseph Vigil's encourgement to revitalize the San Juan Catholic Community's church property in La Garita, construction of the San Juan Bautista Monument begin in July 2009. The project continued throughout the remaining summer months into fall.  In mid-November a special Mass was said by Father Vigil followed by a procession to the Monument where he blessed and dedicated the San Juan Bautista Monument as a gift to the San Juan Catholic Community and as a place of remembrance and contemplative prayer for all who visit.


The construction of the monument's walls that support the original adobe wall were constructed from approximately 1,500 adobes and dirt from the collapsed walls. The painting of the Baptism of Jesus by Saint John the Baptist is a "true buon fresco", created with a technique in which paint pigment is applied to wet plaster. The cross is constructed with the same 6-armed  structure as the cross on the church’s bell tower.


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Construction of the San Juan Bautista Monument


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San Juan Bautista Monument

- Circa 1960 - "Walls of an adobe convent."

- 1975 - "Former nunnery adobe ruin."

- August 2009 - View of the Convent wall before construction begins.

View east through the remaining doorways towards the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Dirt from collapsed adobe walls had to be cleared before new adobes were added.

New adobes were delivered from New Mexico before construction began.

Supporting walls were built using roughly 1,500 adobes.

Dirt from collapsed walls were sifted to make a mortar for the adobe bricks.

Thunderstorms moving across the San Juan and La Garita Mountains.

Partial walls were added to designate original building corners as well as benches for future visitors.

Adobes were added to a small remaining interior wall to provide additional stability.

Holes made from years of weather were filled with mud to further stabilize the wall.

- September 2009 - Stucco was added to protect new and old adobes walls from weather.

A concrete surface was added to both sides of the monument. Two original building cornerstones were placed in the cement.

A pathway with rock details was added from the Church, past the Monument and on to the Cemetery.

- October 2009 - Wood trim and stain are added to the doorways.

- November 2009 - Installing original buon fresco painting of St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus at La Garita Creek.

The fresco is installed and the Monument is complete…

- November 12, 2009 - Fr. Joseph Vigil blessing and dedicating the San Juan Bautista Monument.

- June 2012 - A pergola was added to protect the fresco from the sun and weather.