Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and Easter: The Miracle of El Santuario de Chimayo

Built on the site of a miracle, the Santuario de Chimayo is believed to be imbued with healing powers, and in fact, there is a long history of miraculous healings at el Santuario de Chimayo.

This beautiful mission style adobe chapel is the most visited church in New Mexico, despite its remote location in the tiny village of Chimayo, 30 miles north of Santa Fe. A small shrine was originally built at the site, but news of the miracles of healing spread so rapidly, that the larger mission style chapel had to be built almost immediately after finishing the original structure. The chapel which currently stands was finished in 1816.

A little well of holy dirt, “el Pocito,” is located in a small room next to the sanctuary. Dirt can be collected in a baggie, or can be purchased in small containers from one of the little shops nearby. Beyond this room is a testament to the miracles of el Pocito and the Santuario, a small sacristy completely filled with the crutches, handmade rosaries, before-and-after photographs, and gifts left behind by those who have been healed.

Following World War II, nearly 2,000 New Mexican soldiers who had served in the Philippines made a pilgrimage to el Santuario de Chimayo to give thanks to Santo Niño de Atocha. A manifestation of Jesus as the Holy Child, Santo Niño has a long history of ministering to the imprisoned. During the long siege of Corregidor and the Bataan Death March which followed, many New Mexican soldiers, some suffering internment in Japanese prison camps, prayed to the Santo Niño de Atocha. Many of these soldiers believed that they were spared as a result of his intervention.

This began the annual Holy Week tradition of walking to el Santuario de Chimayo in honor of the Santo Niño de Atocha. In 1956, the Shrine of Santa Niño de Atocha was built just a short walk from el Santuario de Chimayo, and the tradition of the Easter pilgrimage has continued to flourish. The pilgrimage has now grown to encompass tens of thousands of individuals of all faiths and all walks of life.

And so every year during Holy Week, in the darkness before Good Friday, the faithful line the highways north of Santa Fe carrying crosses and candles. By Easter Sunday tens of thousands of worshipers pass through the doors of el Santuario, taking away with them a bit of the sacred dirt. They come from Santa Fe and Albuquerque and many other destinations, to walk 10, 20, 30, or even 100 miles or more to reach Chimayo. ~Aimee

Learn more about the Miracle of El Santuario de Chimayo

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