Friday, April 14, 2017

Digging the Dirt in Chimayo

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On what is called "Good Friday" (an idea fraught with irony, given the context), there occurs hereabouts an annual event of considerable, sociological and anthropological interest: The pilgrimage to Chimayo.
The faithful believe that miracles occur at a little church, located in an isolated, back-country, rural village in the mountains north of Santa Fe. The Santuario de Chimayo is reputed to be a 'holy' place of miraculous, healing powers, though I have never heard of any godly or saintly apparitions.
It has become a "Good Friday" tradition in northern New Mexico for the plebe to reassert their faith with an Easter-week pilgrimage to the site. Upwards of 20,000 pilgrims per year trek the roads to Chimayo, many walking a score of miles or more, sometimes bare-foot, some carrying crosses, 
to expiate their own sins and those of loved ones who might still be trying to placate "God" for a place in "Heaven." (I personally have no desire to "see" Heaven. It'd be redundant, since I got to spend four years in Santa Barbara.) After a rash of violent attacks and a murder, about 15 years ago, the State Police and sheriffs from two counties now patrol the route.

People have been making pilgrimages there, a la Lourdes, etc, for a couple of centuries, to receive a dram or two of the earth from the floor of the chapel. I believe the pilgrims ingest the soil (a form of spiritual pica?); I don't know.
The numbers of pilgrims to the site has been large enough that, left alone, the faithful would long since have excavated a substantial pit in the floor of the capilla. So regularly, the keepers of the Sanctuary retreat to a "secret spot" some ways away from the site, and return with fresh dirt for the pilgrims.

My family walked it one year from our place in Nambe. I was NOT 'transported."
I think the arch-diocese of Santa Fe oversees it all...but I'm not sure about that.

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