In the 1800’s, when the Spanish dreamed of conquest, they wanted it all from the native peoples – their land, their gold, their soul. Spanish entradas, entrances, into the lands almost always included armor and friars. It is during one of these early explorations into present day San Luis Valley that a legend was born.
Virginia Simmons in her book, The San Luis Valley: Land of the Six Armed Cross, recounts the legend.
An exploratory party had reached the mouth of the Rio Grande. Father Francisco Torres, a missionary from the Pueblos, looked on to the majestic valley and called it, El Valle de San Luis, after the patron saint of Seville, Spain. As was the custom, the Spanish brought with them natives who were essentially slaves. Weary of their treatment, they rebelled and in the process wounded the dreamer, Father Torres.
Wounded though he was, he and the Spanish party fled down the mountain through the great sand dunes and onto the lake, which is today San Luis Lake.
The party quickly produced a makeshift raft and sailed onto the lake for safety, but it was too late for Padre Torres. His wounds were too deep, and he lay dying on the raft. In his last hours, the sun was setting on the beautiful mountain range. He, no doubt, saw Mt. Blanca and the other peaks that towered over the giant sand dunes. The setting sun hit the snowcapped mountains creating a burst of red – as so often happens to this day. With his dying breath, the Padre soulfully exclaimed, “Sangre de Cristo, Sangre de Cristo” – that is, “the blood of Christ, the blood of Christ.” This is the legend of the naming of the beautiful mountain range which spans southern Colorado into New Mexico. This information came from http://sdcnha.org/js/ website.