Santuario de Chimayo

Between Santa Fe and Taos New Mexico, the ‘high road ‘ leads to Chimayo and The Santuario de Chimayo. Outside are numerous eateries, vendors selling high priced candles, painted pots and strings of dried red chilies. Lines of people wait to enter the little church, many to pray for a miracle. Even though chicanery permeates the air, something mystical happens.

Bernardo Abeya was a devout friar who lived in Chimayo. One Friday evening in the year 1810, he went out to do penance. As he prayed, he saw a bright glowing on a hillside. Curious, he went to the light and began to dig. To his surprise, he found a six-foot crucifix. He decided it could only have come from the great Cathedral in Santa Cruz so he took it upon himself to return it. It took him many months, but return it he did. Then he went home.

Imagine his surprise when he found the very same crucifix glowing in the hole on the side of the mountain where he had first seen it. Once again, he took it back to Santa Cruz and once again, upon his return to Chimayo, he discovered the crucifix in the hole on the side of the mountain. For the third time, the Friar carried the six-foot crucifix to the Cathedral in Santa Cruz but when he returned to Chimayo, it too had returned. At last, it came to him that the cross, now called the miraculous crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas, wished to stay in Chimayo.

So he built a tiny chapel but as the story spread many people came to receive the blessing of the cross. Eventually, a church made of pink adobe was built near a meandering stream under the cottonwood trees

People enter through the fragile wooden gate into the courtyard of the Santuario de Chimayo, past a wooden cross that is mounted on battered millstones. Perhaps they come hoping for a cure. They leave with a tiny vile of sacred soil from El Posito, the sacred well of earth. Many discard their crutches and canes and leave humble tokens of gratitude.

“Do you think it really works?” a sickeningly frail young man asks, his skin transparent, his eyes pleading.

“Yes, of course,” answers his comrade.

Her simple response is the same kindness that sends hundreds to New Orleans and thousands to Haiti. It is the magic of compassion.

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