Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art History and Visual Culture



First Advisor

Sarah Cantor

Second Advisor

Sara Berkowitz

Third Advisor

Khristin Landry


This master's thesis explores the Reredos of Our Lady of Light, a stone monument situated as the focal point of a former military chapel known as La Castrense in Colonial Santa Fe, New Mexico. Crafted by Bernardo Miera y Pacheco in 1761, the reredos is analyzed as a multifaceted masterpiece that blends religious symbolism with propaganda messaging. Its central location in the capital and meticulous design make it a potent tool employed to shape perceptions, reinforce beliefs, and incite the viewer to take action in support of both the Roman Catholic faith and the ever-growing interests of the king and Spanish Empire. This multifaceted study delves into the established iconography to promote the propaganda messages of its patrons, don Francisco Marín de Valle, governor and captain general of Colonial New Mexico, and his wife, doña María Ignacia Martinez de Ugarte. This methodology includes examination of institutional backing, identification of targeted audiences, and analysis of the conveyed messages, and scrutiny of its visual elements, all while maintaining fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The thesis employs a comprehensive methodology to identify the reredos as a work of propaganda, examining its backing by institutional support, targeted audiences, messages conveyed, and its visual elements to reveal its complex layers of religious and political significance. Through this analysis, the research sheds light on the dual purpose of the Reredos of Our Lady of Light, illustrating its role as a powerful cultural, spiritual and political artifact.