Chimayó, located north of New Mexico is a town with less than 30 thousand inhabitants. However, it is a very important center not only for New Mexico, but for the whole country. Visitors can find places that show the influence of Spaniards during colonial times. But the most relevant fact about Chimayó, about 90 miles from Albuquerque, is having one of the most important places of pilgrimage in North America.
The Santuario de Chimayó Shrine has been a destination for religious pilgrimage for hundreds of years. It was built in 1816 and an estimated 300,000 people visit it every year. During Easter, especially on Good Friday, about 30,000 pilgrims embark their walk towards the shrine. They come praying and hardened by the local sand, which is said to have healing properties.
Every worshiper chooses how to pay respect. Many arrive on foot, from nearby places, barefoot and carrying a cross. Many others come from out of state, in a more conventional way, driving their cars. “Chimayó has a good network of hotels to serve those who visit the Santuario during Easter,” explained Reina Valera, from the New Mexico Hospitality Association.
The Santuario de Chimayó became a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The church has been compared to that of Lourdes, in France, not for its size, but for how much following it has. Visitors take with them an estimated 25 to 30 tons of the “miracle dirt” every year.