Each holy weekend, the small village of Chimayo instantly swells from 3,000 people to approximately 40,000! The El Santuario de Chimayo is the final destination of the largest annual pilgrimage in the United States. Despite its immense importance to the Catholic community, not very many people know about its existence. Here is everything you need to know about the Chimayo, NM pilgrimage and how you can experience it for yourself!
The Chimayo, NM pilgrimage is just one of the many reasons to visit our historic Southwest village! Download your free copy of our Chimayo Vacation Guide right now for a full list of all the best recommendations for local activities, attractions, dining, and more.
More About the Chimayo, NM Pilgrimage
On Good Friday, thousands of people gather in Chimayo, NM for the annual Holy Pilgrimage. Many of these travelers come from all over the nation and choose to walk hundreds of miles to the El Santuario de Chimayo. Some pilgrims even complete the journey barefoot while others carry a wooden crucifix with them!
People participate in the pilgrimage for a variety of reasons. Some come to give thanks to God for answered prayers or to ask for divine intercession and enlightenment. Others travel to seek the miraculous healing powers of Chimayo holy dirt. This soil, which is found in a small hole within the El Santuario de Chimayo, can be rubbed on the skin, sprinkled on food, and even brewed in tea! When pilgrims arrive after their long journeys, they each take their turn taking a handful of the dirt before spending the rest of the day celebrating, praying, and worshipping on the church grounds.
History of the Chimayo, NM Pilgrimage
The origins of the Holy Pilgrimage branch from two legendary miracles! The first took place on Good Friday in 1810. According to the legend, a group of men was engaging in conversation on a nearby hilltop when they saw a mysterious light shining in the distance. After an investigation, they discovered a half-buried wooden crucifix. They alerted the nearest church and the priest had the crucifix carried back with him. However, before dawn struck the next morning, the crucifix disappeared and was found right where it was first discovered. Two more attempts to bring the crucifix to the church ended with the same result. People began to assume that the land it stood upon was sacred! A few years later, a Penitente brother built a small shrine around the miracle crucifix. This shrine is now recognized as the El Santuario de Chimayo.
While the crucifix was the church’s main draw for many years, it wasn’t long before a small hole containing “healing dirt” was discovered. Rumor has it that this is where the miraculous crucifix was buried! People from all over the world traveled to the church for a handful of the El Santuario de Chimayo holy dirt.
The second miracle occurred in the early 1850’s when a member of an influential local family became seriously ill. He prayed to God for health and promised that if he healed, he would make the pilgrimage to the shrine of Santo Niño de Atocha in the town of Plateros in Zacatecas, Mexico. His prayers were answered, and the man stayed true to his word. During his journey, he came into possession of a paper mache doll of Santo Nino (Jesus as a child). Upon his return to Chimayo, he gained permission to build a private chapel just a few hundred yards from the church to house the doll. The chapel was completed in 1856 and has greatly contributed to Santo Nino devotees in Northern New Mexico.
Participate in the Holy Pilgrimage
Pilgrims are not ordinary tourists! Instead, they seek to understand the essence of time, place, and the people they meet along the way. If you wish to participate in this year’s pilgrimage, you will be warmly welcomed into the village of Chimayo! To help you get started, take a look at this Chimayo Pilgrimage route map for more information on how to get to the El Santuario de Chimayo.
Stay at Casa Escondida for the Chimayo, NM Pilgrimage
Whether you’re participating in the pilgrimage or looking for a unique place to spend the holy weekend, Casa Escondida is the perfect place to stay! Our Southwestern bed & breakfast is located in the heart of Chimayo and just minutes from the El Santuario de Chimayo. During your stay, you’ll enjoy beautifully decorated and comfortable guest rooms, a peaceful ambiance, and a delicious daily breakfast each morning. Plus, our location in northern New Mexico will place you within driving distance of Santa Fe, Jemez Springs, and Taos! It’s everything you need and more for a holiday weekend you won’t soon forget!
Reserve your stay at Casa Escondida today before we’re completely booked!
Photo Credit: LizCoughlan/Getty Images