Friday, February 06, 2015


 This is not meant as a religious post, but one about a place that sounds interesting and which I would like to experience for myself. Do you believe in miracles? I do and have seen many occur in my lifetime. Okay, that sounds religious, doesn't it? Not meant to be, but just a statement of my opinion.

My family members are Protestants who have a healthy respect for others' beliefs. Each of my immediate family is interested in all religions. Since we learned of Chimayó several years ago, Darling Daughter 2 and I have wanted to travel to El Santuario de Chimayó, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA. (Santuario is Spanish for "sanctuary".) This adobe Roman Catholic Church is locally known as the “Lourdes of America.”

Some say that before the Spaniards arrived, a hot spring that then flowed near the site was sacred to the Tewa Indians for its healing powers.

A National Historic Landmark since 1970, the shrine is famous for the story of its founding and as a contemporary pilgrimage site. It receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called "no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States." 

Pilgrims coming to El Santuario de Chimayó
One man carries a cross
In case you haven’t heard of Chimayó, allow me to enlighten you.

The story goes that sometime around 1810, a Chimayó friar was performing penances when he saw a light bursting from a hillside. Digging, he found a crucifix, quickly dubbed the miraculous crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. A local priest brought the crucifix to Santa Cruz, but three times it disappeared and was later found back in its hole.

By the third time, everyone understood that El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayó, and so a small chapel was built on the site. Then the miraculous healings began. These grew so numerous that the chapel had to be replaced by the larger, current Chimayó shrine -- an adobe mission -- in 1816.

Mission Santuario de Chimayó
Another version says Señor Abeyta, a man from Guatemala, was watching his sheep and contemplating his blessings though he was sick. When a vision of his patron saint, San Esquipula, beckoned to him he went to the place where the saint had appeared. He knelt and was cured immediately. Other people also were cured there, and Abeyta built the chapel in thanks.

Whether you believe one story or disbelieve both, many people seek this place for healing and for personal blessings, In Santuario de Chimayó, the crucifix still resides on the chapel altar, but its curative powers have been overshadowed by El Posito, the "sacred sand pit" from which it sprang. El Posito is behind the main altar. 

Offerings left on the fence of Chimayó
The Prayer Room, which is located in the sacristy of the church (next to the pit), is filled with discarded crutches, braces, and handmade shrines. Also in proximity to the site is a restaurant, a burrito stand, and a gift shop that sells everything from souvenir T-shirts to refrigerator magnets.

Prayer Room crutches discarded by those healed
You cannot buy sand in the gift shop, but the store sells empty "Blessed Dirt" petri dishes that you can fill up with sand from the shrine.

Petri dish filled with blessed dirt
The Welcome Center provides a handy map guiding visitors to each important station—the Chapel, the Madonna Gardens, Our Lady of Sorrows Monument, the Prayer Portal, and more. The sacred dirt pit is in a room where photography is now forbidden but here is a photo from an earlier time.

El Posito, the sacred sand pit behind the altar
Obviously, if 300,000 people carried away dirt each year, the hole would have grown much larger and be a mighty cavern or resemble a strip mine by now. Sand from the surrounding hills replaces that carried away and is blessed. At times, this must be done twice a day. The sand is either rubbed on the person who needs healing or carried home to one who could not come or to be a blessing. Sometimes sand is mixed with saliva so it sticks better to the afflicted area of the person needing the cure. A few have even eaten the sand. I know, euwww. But what would you do to be cured of a debilitating affliction?

What about you? Do you believe in miracles? 


Thanks for stopping by!

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