The settlement of Santa Cruz de la Canada was founded in 1695, becoming the second villa established by the Spanish in New Mexico (Santa Fe was the first). The present church was constructed beginning in 1733 and for many years was the largest and most impressive church in New Mexico. Many consider it to be one of the most beautiful and culturally significant churches in the United States. Inside are examples of Spanish colonial art created by famous santeros including Jose Raphael Aragon, the "Laguna Santero", and the "Truchas Master". It also contains one of the earliest Spanish Colonial artworks, the bulto of "Santo Entierro" created by Fray Andres Garcia circa 1767. Also adorning the church are several beautiful paintings and bultos created in Mexico and brought to Santa Cruz de la Canada in the early to mid 19th century.
Santa Cruz Church and Holy Cross Parish have been under the stewardship of the Sons of the Holy Family since 1920.