Book 9 Chapter 2
Summary: In the autumn of 1888, Latour falls ill, and requests to return to the Archbishop’s residence in Santa Fe. The current Archbishop grants the request, and Latour, with Bernard, makes his way back to Santa Fe. As he enters the town, during a fine February sunset, he sees his completed cathedral.
Analysis: Latour tells Bernard, “I shall not die of a cold… I shall die of having lived” (p. 267). This chapter offers a concrete testimony to the life Latour has lived when, as he enters Santa Fe for the last time, he sees the completed cathedral for which he so long dreamed and planned. “[I]t was of the South, that church, how it sounded the note of the South!” (p. 269). Even though it is fashioned by a French architect in the Midi Romanesque style, it remains a church suitable for its place—and, by extension, for the people it was built to serve. It, like Latour, is “of the South.” As Molny the architect has told Latour, “Setting… is accident. Either a building is a part of a place, or it is not. Once that kinship is there, time will only make it stronger” (p. 270). In his dying wish to return to Santa Fe, where his ministry in the New World officially began—and where its effects can still be felt; for example, Magdalena is still there, preparing his old study for his return (p. 267)—Latour shows just how fully time has effected a kinship between himself and his place.