After a wonderful breakfast in a French café with a friend, I headed out of Santa Fe, taking the back-road scenic route to Taos. Past places with names like Peňasco, Chimayó, Truchas. It is a gorgeous drive.
My first stop was Chimayó, a village over three hundred years old. Chimayó is a place long believed to be the site of miraculous healings at the spot a wooden crucifix was unearthed. Because of the healings, a small chapel was built in 1816, called el Santuario de Nuestro Seňor de Esquipulas. Today it’s more simply called el Santuario de Chimayó, and thousands come each year to be healed.
During WWII. Many New Mexican soldiers prayed for safety to Santo Niňo de Atocha. A chapel dedicated to this child saint, constructed in the mid-1800s, is also in Chimayó. When the soldiers returned from the war, they began what is now yearly walk to Chimayó at Easter to thank the saint for his protection. In the days leading up to Easter, each year the roads and trails heading to Chimayó are filled with thankful believers. This is something I hope to return to see and maybe participate in one day.
I first stepped into the Santa Niňo de Atocha Chapel.
It is small, serene, and sacred. The thick adobe walls keep outside noise from entering. I sat awhile, then approached the front and entered the prayer room. There were photos of maybe two thousand children who have died. Tiny shoes were tucked onto bancos and ledges. Candles burned.
Although some of the photos and shoes belonged to pre-teens, most belonged to babies and infants. It was heartbreaking. I could think only of the children massacred in Connecticut, and returned to the main chapel to pray for them. And to weep.
I sat awhile, then left to roam the tiny village, stopping next in the Santuario. It, too, feels like a sacred place. Again I sat, and again I entered the prayer room. Off to the side of the prayer room is a tiny room with a hole in the floor where people can take a bit of the holy dirt. Although I didn’t take any, I reached into the hole, scooping up dirt and letting it trickle through my hands.
Then I roamed the outside and visited galleries both in the village and just outside the village.
Photos are not allowed inside the Santuario or the Chapel,which is why none were included. Here are photos from the area. This is a visit I recommend each of you take one day.