Monday, March 30, 2015

Off The Grid Travels-Chimayo

Our off the grid travels today included Chimayo, Rio Grande Gorge and Earthship Biotecture on the way to Taos. Blog postings will be in three parts.
Part One: Santuario de Chimayo   

Today we got a head start on the Chimayo Pilgrimage by driving rather than walking. I first heard about this Pilgrimage with a late night phone call from my daughter three years ago. She and her husband just happened to be on vacation in this area. They were driving the nearby interstate on Holy Thursday when they  encountered thousands of people walking along the road making their way to the town of Chimayo by Good Friday.   According to them the sheer size of the crowd was an impressive sight as they walked along the interstate with glow lights and being escorted by the State Patrol.  

So fast forward to Monday March 30th. Never would I imagine to actually be here experiencing all this first hand during Holy Week. 

Thousands of New Mexicans this week will be making what’s called the most holy pilgrimage in the United States by Good Friday to reach this little church in Chimayo. It's all over the news here with warnings to drive safe since so many people are walking the road into Chimayo.   
Pilgrims come from all over, walking for miles, traveling through the night from Espanola, Santa Fe and Albuquerque making their way to el Santuario de Chimayo a tiny shrine in northern New Mexico. 
As you can see the walk meanders by barren landscape. Pilgrims leave from their homes or their cars parked on the road side to walk 10, 20, 30 or even 100 miles to reach Chimayo in the darkness before Good Friday. They line the highways north of Santa Fe carrying crosses and glow sticks. By Easter Sunday tens of thousands of worshipers pass through the doors of this little chapel built almost 200 years ago on a site that is sacred to many Pueblo Indians and descendants of the Spanish. El Santuario de Chimayo was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1970.
Once people arrive they file into the church offering up special intentions and touching the holy dirt, that is said to have healing powers, located inside el Santuario.

You can scoop up the dirt 
and fill up a little bag to take home for only $2.00.
For many this pilgrimage is an annual tradition, but for some it’s their first time. Everyone has their own reason for making this trek. Some reasons might include: spiritual strength, remembering loved ones who have died, to pray for a safe return of loved ones, or a plea for hope to recover from an illness.
An estimated 300,000 people are expected to visit the sanctuary throughout the year. During lent the church typically sees around 40,000 pilgrims.  
We only passed a small group walking the road. What surprised me was these pilgrims seemed ill prepared for such a walk without backpacks and believe me when I say there is nothing around;no water or food stations or bathrooms until you reach the town. And their walk certainly was at leisurely pace. Maybe because its only Monday! 
I found the area to be rather quiet since it was early in the week. I was fascinated by the history. You can tell from the pictures the devotion and earnestness pilgrims must have to make such an arduous spiritual journey.
Along the fence are crosses people have carried on their journey.  

Crutches and walkers left behind. 

Door to a chapel. 
There were several small chapels where thousands of pictures of loved ones have been placed over the years, candles lit as a memorial and intentions placed in a basket. 
This chapel was quite interesting. Thousands of baby shoes and pictures were placed all around this alcove of a room. I found out when a child's first birthday comes parents place a pair of shoes there to honor the child and a symbol as a wish for a happy life. 
It was a beautiful day. The plaza had these stunning trees in full bloom. I am guessing they were cherry blossoms. 
And it was here I found Bella "holding court" with all her admirers.
I can't believe how many people come up and ask to pet her!  
Some parting pictures. 
Rosaries tacked on the tree trunk.

1 comment:

  1. I have never heard of this walk. What a walk of faith and devotion, a spiritual journey. Thanks for telling us about this. It's another memory to add to Holy Week for you.


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