Chimayo, New Mexico Pilgrimage - Spirituality In Every Day Life"If you are a stranger, if you are weary from the struggles in life, whether you have a handicap, whether you have a broken heart, follow the long mountain road, find a home in Chimayo" - Poem inside the Santuario de Chimayo
Northern New Mexico's mystical, Catholic spiritual tradition arises from the Spanish saying, tiene uno que sufrir para merecer: One must suffer to be worthy. No better example of this can be found than in Chimayo - in ways small and large, in places private and community.
Chimayo Santuario -Here, the Santuario de Chimayo's holy dirt works miracles every day, healing visitors from around the world from ailments minor and serious. Each year, thousands make pilgrimage to the Lourdes of America, entreating Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas (Our Lord of Esquipulas) with prayers to remove their suffering. The tiny shrine, devoted to the legendary, miraculous return of a crucifix found by Bernardo de Abeyta in the early 1800s, features a small pit of sacred soil to which many ascribe curative powers. Certainly, it's astounding that each night, no matter how much dirt pilgrims remove, the hole refills itself and greets the next days' visitors.
In a small room connected to the chapel, a collection of crutches, splints and other devices delivered or brought to the Santuario testifies to the healing powers of the sacred site. The unassuming, picturesque Catholic church, built on what legends say is a sacred Native American site, inspires visitors and residents to place public affirmation of their faith: crosses on surrounding trees, fences and walls.
Shrine of Santo Nino de Atocha -Steps away from the Santuario de Chimay0 sits the Shrine of Santo Nino de Atocha, also built in 1856 by Abeyta, one of the founders of the New Mexico Penitente Brotherhood. Even today, during Holy Week tens of thousands of individuals of every faith and lifestyle walk a ritual route. Some travel on their knees, others carry heavy wooden crosses, and still others push relatives in wheelchairs - many from as far away as Old Mexico. The crosses the penitents carry remain in the fields behind the Santuario.
While in the Santuario plaza, visit the new Bernardo Abeyta Museum to discover why the Chimayoso erected the church, learn about the Penitente Brotherhood and the traditional religious art created by New Mexico santeros (spiritual artists).
On the west side of the Plaza del Cerro (Old Plaza) near the Santuario is the humble chapel constructed by Abeyta's son-in-law Pedro Ortega in the early 1800s. Originally for family use, the Oratorio de San Buenaventura, or simply the Oratorio, quickly became a community treasure and alternative worship site by residents. Acquired by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1963, and lovingly restored in the 1990s, the Oratorio boasts a new bell, elegantly simple altar screens and the chandeliers after which the Hotel Chimay0 de Santa Fe's guest room light fixtures are patterned.
Heritage Hotels & Resorts offers turnkey group religious/spiritual tours of Northern New Mexico in partnership with professional tour operators.
For more on the Santuario de Chimay0, the Shrine of Santo Nino de Atocha, or the Penitente Brotherhood of Northern New Mexico, visit these sites: