Fallen tree unearths human bone at St. Francis Cathedral

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Last week, strong winds toppled a beloved tree in front of the St. Francis Cathedral.

Now that the tree is gone – the area has turned into an archeological site. Father Timothy Martinez made an unusual discovery.

"When it fell, it pulled out the root," Father Timothy Martinez said. "It didn’t break the tree, it pulled out the tree from the ground so there was a big hole that was left behind so as they were pulling out the different pieces. I noticed what I thought was a stick at first then it occurred to me that is not a stick, it’s a bone."

It appeared to be a small human arm bone, buried beneath the fallen tree.

And – while it’s not an everyday find – the discovery of the bone is not exactly surprising.

"Most of our older churches, up until the 1800s, even some later than that, all have burials right around them. Some even have burials in the floors of the church and so when ever we’ve had to do renovations, whenever we’ve had to do repairs especially when we’ve had to dig, sometimes bones come up,” Martinez said.

The church has stood there for about 400 years.

"It’s our ancestors who are still here," Martinez said. "Sure, maybe their bones have been disturbed and that’s not a great thing, it’s not a good thing, but we try to be careful, and we try to be cautious, and what we’re doing here is being careful and cautious.”

The newly-discovered bone is now in the hands of archaeologists. More archeological work may need to be done in that area.

Church leaders hope the bone will be returned to its original site.