SchoolArts Room

A Personal Pilgrimage: El Santuario de Chimayó

By Nancy Walkup, posted on May 15, 2016

El Santuario de Chimayó is a Roman Catholic church in ChimayóNew Mexico, built in 1816This shrine, a National Historic Landmark, is famous as a contemporary pilgrimage site.  It receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.

Nancy and Stevie
I have made my own pilgrimage to this place every time I came to New Mexico and Stevie and I always bring our New Mexico seminars here. Our Tres Culturas seminar will be with us here this summer.
A small room to the side of the church contains a small round pit, the source of "holy dirt"  that is believed to have healing powers. An adjacent room displays many ex-votos as well as photographs, discarded crutches, and other testimonials of those purportedly healed. Many visitors to the church take a small amount of the dirt in hopes of a cure for themselves or someone who could not make the trip. Now seekers of cures more commonly rub themselves with the dirt or simply keep it. 
Over the years many more features have been added as symbols of prayers, thanks, and devotion. This shrine is one example. All of its contents have been left by pilgrims and parishioners.





On Sundays Chimayo can be very crowded with parishioners and pilgrims but it was quiet on the weekday we stopped by.









Our 2016 Tres Culturas seminar is full but we have two upcoming trips to Oaxaca, Mexico that have spaces left. You can learn more about them here.