SchoolArts Room

Desert Divas in Chimayo, New Mexico

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Jul 9, 2014

Our Desert Divas group started out our day in Chimayo, New Mexico, at Centinela Weavers, the best of the best. Irvin and Lisa Trujillo usually take home the top awards at Spanish Market and are included in many museum collections.

Lisa wasn't there but Irvin kindly gave us a history of weaving in Northern New Mexico. He is a 7th generation weaver and I doubt if there is a better weaver anywhere.
One of Irvin's amazing weavings. He has a degree in engineering and talked about the math involved in making this.




This weaving is made from silk yarn and took 8 months to weave. Notice the blue ribbon.

Irvin's wife Lisa is also an award-winning weaver. These are 3 of her weavings.
Another of Lisa's weavings.



Our next stop was the Santuario de Chimayo, a pilgrimage church and National Historic Landmark, sometimes called the Lourdes of America. Built in 1816, its location was determined by a legend. In 1810, supposedly a light was seen coming from the ground here and a cross was discovered upon digging at the site. The cross was taken to Santa Cruz, a nearby church, but it was discovered to be missing the next day. It was found again at the original site and this process was repeated three times. A chapel was then built for the cross at Chimayo in 1810 and this church was built in 1816. The interior of the church looks much as it did when first built, including masterful folk carvings of Jesus and other religious figures. It is also a living church and the faith of its parishioners is clear when you visit it.
We were fortunate to be there on a weekday when it wasn't crowded. It is rare to be able to take a photo like this. In the church, on the left hand side, is a narrow room with a smaller room at the back. In this room is el pocito - a little well or hole that is filled with finely grained red dirt. The dirt inside the hole is believed to have curative powers and people come from near and far to take away some of the dirt. The narrow room in front of it is filled with religious devotional items, discarded crutches, photographs, letters, and written prayers, all left by pilgrims.
Our third group portrait.
The church is surrounded by shrines with candles, rosaries, and other religious items left behind by pilgrims. These seem to be different every time we come here.
Over 300 pilgrims visit this site every Easter, especially on Good Friday. Some come, walking, from as far away as Albuquerque. It is a sacred place.