Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Pilgrimage to Chimayo


Last Friday I saw one lone man with a cane making the annual Easter pilgrimage to the small adobe chapel known as the “Lourdes of America” in Chimayo, New Mexico. By Sunday, the numbers will swell to as many as 50,000 people.

Some will walk the 90 miles from Albuquerque, the 14 miles from Chupadero, the 40 miles from Taos or the 25 miles from Santa Fe. They will line the highways bearing crosses and carrying photographs of  loved ones who are ill or who have departed. Some will walk from Espanola as their parents and grandparents did before them, pushing baby strollers and holding statues of saints. Some will park their cars along the highway and join the others as they walk the last few miles on the winding two lane highway that leads to the Santuario de Chimayo. That’s what I did last year.

People of all religions make the pilgrimage. They walk as an act of gratitude or in memory of a loved one or as a prayer to end wars. I am sure some people make the walk just to be a part of what is called the nation’s largest public display of devotion, a tradition that goes back to the early 1800s.

The safety of all is overseen by members of 26 organizations who have joined together as part of a  ”catastrophic incident management plan.” Law enforcement will place orange barrels on a section of  U.S. 84/285 to mark the walking path and erect electronic signs to caution drivers.

When they arrive at the Santuario, they will likely scoop up the “holy dirt” thought to bring forth miracles. They will walk through the grounds or sit for a few minutes in the Chapel. Leona’s, which stopped serving food a few years ago, will be open this weekend to serve drinks, tomales and frito pies.

I leave you with a few photographs of the grounds. For a glimpse of the Easter walk of pilgrims, click here. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Spring to all.



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