What Lourdes is to water, Chimayo is to the earth
The chapel in Chimayo started on a legend, was built upon sacred land. A crucifix was found in a field and upon that site the people built El Sanctuario De Chimayo. Over time the soil was thought to be sacred and people from near and far began to visit Chimayo for cures. This became especially so during Holy Week and these trips became religious pilgrimages. Today over 300,000 people visit Chimayo each year and tens of thousands visit during the Easter holidays.
Most pilgrims walk to the sanctuary on Good Friday so that they can suffer along with Christ on the day he suffered and died. They walk from the nearby pueblos and towns like Pojoaque, Nambe, and Espanola. Many walk from as far as Santa Fe or even Albuquerque. You see hundreds of these pilgrims along every road leading into Chimayo during Holy Week and this number grows to thousands on Good Friday.
They come as a penance for their sins, to find God or having found God, some seek redemption, and others come for those who are sick or in harm’s way. They come wearing tee shirts or bearing crosses with the names and pictures of their loved ones on them. And some, like myself, come to bear witness to this belief and capture the images of it for others to see.
I have a book covering our visits to Chimayo during Holy Week titled, "Of Adobe, Earth, and the Soul". You can preview the book here