Photographer highlights cathedral's beauty

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By Carol A. Clark

Early this year, Los Alamos National Laboratory photographer LeRoy Sanchez focused his camera on the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe and the result is an ethereally exquisite calender.

Sanchez belongs to the parish and is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of his first of its kind calender to the restoration of the 400-year-old Cathedral.

Monsignor Jerome Martinez, Cathedral Rector, granted Sanchez permission in January to photograph both the interior and exterior of the Cathedral.

"I started the project and it eventually turned into a passion," Sanchez said. "What may have been Divine inspiration became an amazing journey and privilege for me as time flew by and I started my photographic mission." Statues, paintings, icons, and textures that he had taken for granted for many years as a parishioner, began to take on a new significance, he said.

"I wanted people to really see what I was 'seeing' as a photographer using both available and artificial light for enhancement," Sanchez said. "Ultimately, the calendar was born out of this 'project' and I realized that I had found a way to share the beautiful images that I was capturing with my camera with others."

Last Spring, the Monsignor asked Sanchez to join the Cuarto Centenario Committee of the Cathedral. He presented his idea for a calendar to the group and it was approved.

Through the duration of the project, Sanchez shot some 800 photos and the images he selected for the calender are breathtaking. June features a column illuminated in colored light streaming in through a stained glass window. December highlights the Cathedral's beautiful alter.

Sanchez has been a photographer at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years. His work brought him to Washington, D.C. in a change of station for a year to be the White House photographer to Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton.

Last summer, he was one of a group of a photographers hired by the Democratic National Committee to document the presidential convention in Denver.

Sanchez is continuing to photograph the Cathedral to document the restoration work for the church’s records.

The 2009 Cuarto Centenario Commemorative Calendar of the Cathedral

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi can be purchased for $19 at Otowi Book Store and Village Arts in Los Alamos and at the Cathedral Gift Shop, La Fonda Book Store, the fine Arts and Palace of the Governors Gift Shops, the Spanish Colonial Museum on Museum Hill, The Christmas Shop, and Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe.