(This book cannot be returned.)
New Mexico has passed into American hands, and two French missionary priests are sent to assume responsibility for the new diocese. Bishop Jean Marie Latour and Vicar Joseph Vaillant, friends from boyhood, arrive at a time when all travel is still by foot or on horseback and the region is undergoing great change. As they work to expand the Catholic church's influence and care for the residents, they come to understand the impact of European expansion on native groups and develop a deep respect for the people of the desert region.
Along the way they endure life-threatening adventures, from snowstorms to outbreaks of disease to the unstable politics of the time, contend with the scandalous behavior of local priests, and come to terms with the responsibilities of faith at the intersection of American colonial pressure and native resistance.
Throughout the novel, which is based loosely on historical characters, Willa Cather beautifully renders the dramatic landscapes of the Southwest, painting scenes of stark mountains, dangerous canyons, and lush secret springs that nourish the land.