Archangel Michael Monastery, Cañones NM

This remote desert monastery is nestled in a canyon about an hour drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a creek which runs through the canyon, which the brotherhood uses for irrigation, having created a few channels to direct the water where they need it. There is also a spring near the guest house, so you’ll see photos of streams, crops, fruit trees, grape vines, and more. Streams in the desert…

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The Monastery Entrance.

While I was there, much work was being done in preparation for construction of a new building. Currently numbering six, the brotherhood has consciously decided to grow no larger than twelve. The monks live in the skete tradition, in separate dwellings, but coming together for the services, work, and meals. Monday is reserved as a ‘Desert Day’, with no services from Compline on Sunday afternoon to 9th Hour and Vespers on Monday afternoon, and only necessary work. Informal meals and complete silence set this ‘Desert Day’ apart for the monks to spend in prayer and solitude, and one can sense the benefits of this holy rhythm of life.

For some insights into the life of the monks at Archangel Michael, see their ‘About the Monastery’ page on their website. To schedule a pilgrimage, see here, and explore the other sections of their website.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
‘Holy Archangels House of Ascent’ – the guesthouse, with the mesa behind lit by the setting sun.

Other pilgrims came and went while I was there. The comfortable guest house is a short walk from the main monastery area, and features three bedrooms, one with a connected bathroom, and another separate bathroom, with a laundry room. A commons area with comfortable seating and fireplace, a breakfast table, and a full kitchen makes this an ideal monastery for small group or family retreats.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Looking from the narthex into the chapel.

The services are deeply compunctionate, and there is a warmth and welcoming feel from the brotherhood. I had visited here back in Autumn 2014, and was happy to return and find the same welcoming simplicity and stillness.

The Superior, Fr Silouan blessed me to photograph the grounds, but no photos of the monks, a rule which I deeply respect. So as you explore the gallery, you are seeing their setting, almost as a first-person walk through of their surroundings.

  • Note on the Gallery format: I have (for now) settled on using the ’tiled mosaic’ option for the galleries, as it allows you to see all the images easily, and click on the ones you would like to view larger.