- What: El Santuario de Chimayo Mission Church
- Where: Chimayo, New Mexico
- More Information: El Santuario de Chimayo website
I have thing for checking out historical churches, temples, mosques, etc. around the world and New Mexico is an especially great place to do this. The state is filled with many historic old churches especially around the Santa Fe area. Without a doubt the most famous church in the Santa Fe region is the Santuario De Chimayo Church. This historic church is located about a 45 minute drive outside of Santa Fe through the scenic high New Mexico desert:
The drive to Chimayo from Santa Fe is actually quite a nice one due to all the various colors that can be seen in the high desert landscape:
I stopped several times along the way to take some pictures of this colorful desert to include taking one of my truck:
Just a short drive down the road into this river valley was the location of the church:
Native Americans occuppied this valley long before the Spanish ever arrived. The village of Chimayo was founded in the early 18th century and has long been known for its Spanish weaving traditions, however it is it’s famous church that continues to draw visitor to this remote area. Since the village is so small the church is fairly easy to find:
From the church’s parking lot I had to first walk across a grass field that had these stone crosses erected next to the creek that flows adjacent to the chuch:
The water in this creek was incredibly clean since it flows straight from the snow capped peaks of the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains:
Also adjacent to this creek was an area where church services could be held as well as this altar that oddly people leave their tennis shoes at:
El Santuario is known for its healing properties and often called the Lourdes of America; so maybe these shoes had something to do with healing people? Anyway, from the outside seating area there is a small hill to walk up to the actual El Santuario De Chimayo, which from there provides a good view of the outdoor seating area:
As nice as the outdoor area is, the church is without a doubt beautiful building:
What makes this church so popular with visitors is the supposed healing powers this church has. As the story goes, in 1810 a friar was in the village of Chimayo and he saw a light on the hill side. So when to the area he saw the light at and begun digging. When dug into the hill side he found a cruxifix. The friar brought the cruxifix to nearby Santa Cruz but it ended up disappearing and the friar end up finding the cruxifix back at the original hill side. He attempted to bring the cruxifix back to Santa Cruz three times and it disappeared each time to end up back on the hill side. After the third time the friar took it to mean that the cruxifix wanted to remain on the hill. So the friar built a small chapel on the hill. Soon after the construction of the chapel the miraculous healings began which brought increased crowds to the chapel.
Due to the ever growing crowds the current adobe mission was built in 1816 to accomodate them:
The church is actually fairly large and all around the structure it is beautifully landscaped:
Of course outside of the chapel is a statue of the friar that found the cruxifix on the hill that made this holy site possible:
I went inside the church, but there was a service going on so I didn’t take any pictures. However, inside the chapel both the original cross and the hole the friar dug up the cross at can be seen:
The church is reported to receive 300,000 visitors a year and is known as the most important Catholic pilgrimmage site in the United States.
Even if you are not a religious person this site is quite scenic and well worth checking out. First of all the drive out to Chimayo makes for a nice day trip from Santa Fe. Also I enjoy seeing the historic Hispanic architecture that can be found in New Mexico which El Santuario de Chimayo is a great example of. The historic past of the church only adds to the experience of visiting the church. I had a great time visiting the church and I hope other people have an enjoyable experience as well.