Filed under: Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes
Our Own Pilgrimage to Chimayo
Upon learning of the remarkable tradition of making a pilgrimage to Chimayo during Holy Week each year to visit the Santuario de Chimayo, the site of a miracle in the 1800s, we made the decision on Holy Saturday to drive to Chimayo to check it out for ourselves.
We left Taos about 1 pm on this cloudy day. Temperatures hovered comfortably in the 50’s but there was a strong wind that caused it to feel quite a bit cooler when outside for any length of time. While traveling, we continued to listen to Taos Solar Radio and learned that State Patrol officers would be out in force to protect and assist the walkers. This journey is justifiably well supported by the community. Port-a-potties were available at several locations along the way and a flashing sign warned motorists to “Watch for walkers” along one particularly narrow stretch of road.
Out of respect for their spiritual journey and quest for healing,we chose not to photograph any of the walkers making the pilgrimage. We did observe a number of persons walking the road, including families with young children, old and young alike, the sick and the well, all making their journey to the shrine on Holy Saturday. It was quite a humbling experience.
Upon arriving in Chimayo, signs clearly directed us to the location of the shrine. A sleepy little village with only a few hundred residents, over Easter weekend, the population swells by several thousand persons due to the pilgrimage. Signs warn that there are no gas stations in Chimayo so travelers are advised to gas up in nearby Espanola before proceeding on.
We note the presence of seven New Mexico State Police cars and one Federal Police vehicle near the entrance road to the chapel. Officers are friendly and welcoming to walkers passing through. We enter the small courtyard and are, at once, struck by the mood of the place. It is somber and reverent. Many people are in the courtyard; a line of about fifty people are awaiting entrance to the Santuario. Others are milling about the various buildings, statues and gardens on site. All are quiet. Even the numerous young children present, normally gregarious and noisy, are a bit subdued, seemingly picking up on the mood of the day.
We make our visit to the shrine, choosing to take along a bit of the dirt in a film canister, but decline to take photographs inside this holy place. It just does not seem right. We leave shortly after we arrived, humbled and changed by what we have seen and experienced. Even though we have not walked here, this seems a fitting and sacred way to celebrate Holy Saturday.
We notice for future visits that Chimayo also contains a full service RV Park (the Chimayo RV Park) which boasts full RV hookups so those wishing to make this journey in an RV, and perhaps prolong their visit for more than a few hours, would feel right at home. After visiting the chapel, we stumble upon some of the most delicious food we have eaten in New Mexico! It comes from “Medina’s,” run by a quite elderly Spanish woman, and is exceptional. The food alone is worth a return trip!
For more information about where to stay near Chimayo, NM browse Woodall’s listings of New Mexico RV camping resorts.