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Across the placita, or plaza, from the weaving room at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, which we visited in the last post, is the chapel. The chapel was the settlement’s first building and was probably the first family home. It was used as a meeting room as well as the chapel. The chapel would have been an important part of the life at the ranch as the colonist were devout Catholics. The interior is very plain excepting for the highly decorated Las Golondrinas chapel altar screen or reredos.
In 1994 eleven artists, working in traditional styles, constructed the beautiful reredos, or altar screen, seen in the chapel today. The reredos consists of ten panels, each of which contains an image of a saint or angel including Mary and Joseph and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I confess to not knowing what the other panels represent. Below the reredos, the face of the altar is decorated with a tapestry that depicts an image of the Lamb of God as well as Eucharistic motifs of grapes and wheat. The tapestry seen to the left of the altar is of San Ysidro (sometimes spelled San Isidro) who is the patron saint of farmers. He is nearly always depicted with farm animals such as oxen, a burro or as in this case, sheep.