cleaning uggs Diverse group of pilgrims make the Holy Week trek to El Santuario de Chimay
CHIMAY Even before the dusty glow of morning sun lit up the nearby hills on Good Friday, people were already filing into El Santuario de Chimay.
The distinctly New Mexican building, with two simple cross topped towers and an old wooden attic, beckons like an adobe grail just off County Road 98. Every year, as many as 30,000 journey to the Roman Catholic shrine on traditional Holy Week pilgrimages.
Some come in from the parking lot wearing Ugg boots or sandals. Others walk up in the dust stained tennis shoes and hiking boots they wore to trek a few miles to this northern Santa Fe County village, or perhaps from as far away as Albuquerque.
“This is a diversity here that I don’t know you can get anywhere else,” said Jim Lumpee, who was sitting beside a walking path near the santuario. He and his wife have been coming here on Good Friday since 1983.
Around him walk teenagers in rock band T shirts, monks fully robed, people with rosaries around their necks, families in athletic gear.
Lumpee remembers a time when you didn’t have to wait in lines for hours or come a day early just to say a prayer or collect holy dirt from inside the shrine. When the pair first started visiting, he recalls, a single tourist shop sold nothing that cost more than $5, and the public restroom building didn’t exist. Today, there are gift shops and tourist stands up and down the road, and the line for the bathroom is almost as long as the line for the santuario itself.
Despite the crowds, Lumpee is happy to share.
“This is one of the things that makes New Mexico what it is,” Lumpee said. “I think this is great because we are sharing that culture.”
Marcus Withrow hiked from Pojoaque Pueblo’s Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino with his mother and younger sisters early Friday morning. The teen wasn’t quite sure how to describe the reason they have made the walk for the last five years. The pilgrimage, he said, is just a “calling.”
The shrine is old, he said, “and even though it’s beautiful,
it’s not too elaborate. That reminds me that even though we are like that, God still searches for us. It represents something all of us can relate to: a brokenness, in a sense.”
Sandra Skipworth, a Texan, sat by herself in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, tucked in a peaceful corner away from the crowds. She wiped away tears from under the brim of a hat. It belonged to her late husband.
Skipworth came here for the first time in late January, on the third anniversary of his death. A traveling nurse, Skipworth wanted to come back for Good Friday while still working in New Mexico.
Just last week, Skipworth wasn’t sure she was going to make it. Bone spurs made it hard to walk, and she had left her walking aid her husband’s cane at a hotel in Utah. But the spurs cleared, the cane came in the mail, and Skipworth walked five miles to the santuario. “A miracle,” she said.
“I believe there is healing here,” she said. “This is a special and meaningful place.”
Around every corner is a reminder of how significant this humble 19th century structure has become in the lives and lore of believers.
Alcoves with statues of saints are wallpapered with hundreds of photos of loved ones. A sign petitions visitors to “please pray for those whose pictures you see here.” Thousands of crosses are woven into a fence, or stuck in the crevices of stone sculptures.
Five of those crosses were placed by the family of Melissa Jacobsen, one for each family member who has died in the 41 years her family has been making the pilgrimage.
They started when Jacobsen was an infant. Her brother had terminal cancer, and Jacobsen’s parents made the walk to pray for his health. He is still alive, and the family is still walking.
On Friday, she came with 30 relatives, including her 2 year old granddaughter, the fifth generation to make the Good Friday trip.
“We look forward to this all year,” Jacobsen said. “It symbolizes hope and the future. Where we’ve been, and where we’re going.”
ArticlesNew headaches for Trump’s Mideast hopes as Netanyahu visitsWebber elected Santa Fe mayor in four round ranked choice electionSanta Fe turns out in city’s first ranked choice electionFormer Espaola boys basketball coach adjusts to exileSanta Fe actor Studi to take stage as Oscar presenterWild cards at play in 2018 city electionResults delayed hours in city’s first ranked choice electionTrujillo’s hometown message falls short with votersIn suit,
former employee accuses film union official of sexual harassmentLibrarians fear schools are turning the page on them