Trinity University Press

In the Country of Empty Crosses

The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico

Arturo Madrid (author), Miguel Gandert (photographs)

What it means to belong, through the eyes of an acclaimed Hispanio observer of religious and social histories

In the Country of Empty Crosses is Arturo Madrid’s complex yet affirming memoir about northern New Mexico—places such as Tierra Amarilla, San Augustín, and Los Fuertes that were once among the most remote in the nation. This is Madrid's homeland, a place in which his ancestors predate those who landed at Plymouth Rock.

Madrid grew up in a family that was doubly removed from the community: as Hispanic Protestants, they were a minority among the region's politically dominant Anglo Protestants and a minority within the overwhelmingly Catholic Hispanic populace. He writes affectingly of the lives of his family as they negotiated prejudice and racism in a beautiful if sometimes unforgiving landscape. The result is an account of New Mexico unlike any other, one in which humor and heartache comfortably coexist.

Images by acclaimed photographer Miguel Gandert complement the narrative to portray unkempt rural cemeteries, New Mexico's small villages, and stunning vistas while capturing the sense of loss and survival, hope and redemption that marks this moving and loving memoir.  


  • Winner of Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Award from Historical Society of New Mexico 2012
  • Winner of Texas Institute of Letters Fred Whitehead Award Best Design Trade Book 2012
  • Designated as Finalist for Best Biography New Mexico in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards


In the Country of Empty Crosses arrives as an event in the literary annals of America’s epic pageant of anathematized New World identities, prophetically remembered. Read it as the first ‘deep time’ testimonio of a Hispano protestante from old New Mexico to heed the call of his ancestors to tell their story, which is also his own, con corazón. Wrought with an often wry, flinty poetic eloquence, boundless compassion, and a geomancer’s attention to the austere mystical power of the landscapes of his Tierra Amarilla homeland, Madrid’s fearless tale gives us a glimpse into a secret world of untold histories and longings, narrated throughout with a generous heart, open to becoming something new. It is a bravura performance of ancestral imagination. ”

John Phillip Santos

“A moving remembrance of a Hispano Protestant family in Catholic New Mexico.”

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

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In the Country of Empty Crosses cover
  • Price: $24.95 buy »
  • Pages: 240
  • Size: 8 x 8
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341310
  • B&W photos: 82
  • Maps: 1
  • Price: $24.95
  • Published: Aug 2012
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341228
  • B&W photos: 82
  • Maps: 1


Latin American, Memoir, Regional