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El Santaurio De Chimayo

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El Santuario de Chimayo

Theresa Romero

        El Santuario de Chimayo is a Roman Catholic Church located in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Santuario is Spanish for sanctuary and this special shrine is a sanctuary for many people around the world.  El Santuario de Chimayo is a National Historic Landmark that is known worldwide. This is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites known. This special church attracts visitors from all over the world it has been known to have more than 300,000 visitors per year. Peak time to visit El Santuario de Chimayo is during the Easter Season where many make the pilgrimage to pray and repent.

        El Santuario de Chimayo sits on a small village of El Potrero one of many settlements in the Santa Cruz Valley. El Santuario de Chimayo the shrine was built between 1813 and 1816.  While El Santuario de Chimayo was a privately owned chapel up until 1929 before the people of Santa Fe bought it and donated it over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. El Santuario de Chimayo is a well preserved small adobe church, the interior is a colorful blend of Spanish and Indian styles and decorations. This beautiful church is decorated with 19th century Hispanic religious folk art. There are two small rooms attached one that is called the “el pocito”. This special room contains a hole where there is holy dirt known to have healing powers for the sick. Many dig and put this holy dirt in containers to take with them for those who are too ill to make the trip themselves.

Even before El Santuario de Chimayo was created the land was used as a place of worship for the Pueblo Indians. The Pueblo Indians had inhabited Chimayo way before the initial Spanish conquest of New Mexico.  The Spanish wanted to convert the Pueblo Indians to Christianity which was a major friction between the Catholic Church and the American Indians. The Tewa Indians originally named Chimayo “Tsi-Mayoh” after one of the scared hills in the valley directly behind where El Santuario de Chimayo is today. The Pueblo Indians believed that the land was shared with their supernatural beings. The healing sprits were in the form of the Hot Springs that were once there and have now dried up leaving healing earth behind.

Many people come from around the world to El Santuario de Chimayo is search of a miracle.  El Santuario is known for its Miracles of both physical and spiritual healing. Many believe this is because the church was built on ground that possess the power of healing. This sacred piece of earth is believed to create miraculous cures for the sick and weak. For generations many American Indians, Hispanics and other people of faith travel to the site to pray for healings. My Grandfather Benito Gonzales stated in a phone interview on April 15th about the Catholic shrine “my parents would make us walk the pilgrimage every year on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday to pray for my family and pray for the sick”.  My grandfather who is 79 years old believed that making the pilgrimage would help out the sick.  He believed that the holy ground it was built on had the power of healing.  “This shrine was a place of hope, hope for the future, and hope for the present” Gonzalez stated.   This pilgrimage was a journey to heal both body and soul and for one to become closer to God.  I myself used to walk this pilgrimage with my mother when I was younger. We would start in a little town called Nambe. Nambe is a little town about 12 miles from Chimayo, New Mexico. We used to walk every year, early in the morning and once we got to the church we pray for our family and our friends the elderly and the sick in hopes of miracles and cures. Many place candles and Santos along the walls of the little church and pray to them in hopes for a miracle.



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