I have lived in northern New Mexico for a number of years but never traveled much past Santa Fe. Friends from out of state asked if we would like to go with them to Chimayo to see a small church called "Santurio de Chimayo." I am familiar with it but found lots of material at http://www.elsantuariodechimayo.us/Santuario/Projects.html
and have used it here for my review. The trip north was an easy drive through Santa Fe and this colorful fall day made the commute really interesting. Come with me now.
Sat among the Pecos Wilderness in Northern New Mexico not far from Truchas Peak lies the small community of Chimayo and with it, its most treasured site- El Santuario de Chimayo. Steeped in Spanish history Chimayo did not realize its significance until the very late 1700s through the early 1800s. Two legends describe the origins of the Santurio: One story has it that while performing penances a Friar observed a bright glow cast from the ground near the Santa Cruz River and after digging through the earth beneath the glow discovered a crucifix. In yet another and similar story one of the early Chimayo settlers, Don Bernado Abeyta discovered the crucifix buried in sand. The sand will become the magnet that draws pilgrims in ever increasing numbers through out the years. Regardless of which story one believes another aspect contained in both tales is the parallel to a Guatemalan veneration of a crucifix called Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas.
The church is known by both names, Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas or El Santuario de Chimayo but the later is more well known. Senior Abeyta's story appears more credible in that he appealed to church authorities in 1813 for permission to build a small chapel on the site of the discovery. The Abeyta family owned the land and chapel until 1929. It was at that time the family donated the chapel to the Catholic Archdiocese. Both stories involve the mysterious disappearance of the crucifix only to return to the chapel just as mysteriously. Which ever story is believed the core of the story is that the crucifix provides miraculous curative powers to unending well of sand in which the crucifix was found. It is this well of healing sand that pilgrims, often crawling on their knees for several miles to arrive here, partake from each year at Easter. To conclude this story one must go the small chapel and see the signs of healing, the wall of crutches is one obvious testimony to the story's relevance. However, and all most as astounding, is that the parish priest who ministers to this community has been there for over fifty years. Born in Spain, October of 1918, Father Casimiro Roca has been the church's sole priest for the last fifty years. Both the church and its priest have gone through hard years but as evidenced by their presence, they intend to go into the future until returned to dust or called home. I had an opportunity to speak with Father Roca, he is alert and eager to tell his story.
We visited a bit and Father Roca reflected on growing up in Spain and his entry into the Priesthood and later, health problems that would have doomed lesser men. It seems rebuilding this old church and continuing to maintain it today is his chosen work. Take the time to travel to this small church, see its setting and visit with father Roca- you won't be disappointed!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.