Friday, April 14, 2017
Digging the Dirt in Chimayo
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.