El Santuario de Chimayo

El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, New Mexico

El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, New Mexico

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El Santuario de Chimayo

About 30 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, lies the tiny community of Chimayó.  Of all the villages strung along the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos, Chimayó is the most interesting.  It has a venerated family of weavers who have maintained its business for eight generations as well as the historic, and some believe miraculous chapel, El Santuario de Chimayó.

Before the Spanish town was founded near the end of the 17th century, there was a Tewa-speaking pueblo in this fertile valley.  According to Indian legend there was a pool or hot spring here, the waters or mud of which had healing properties.

The chapel of El Santuario de Chimayó may well occupy that very site.  There are accounts of the interior of the chapel smelling of an earthen dampness rather than the usual dry dust of this part of the country.

Another mystery surrounds the chapel’s origins.  On the night of Good Friday in 1810 or 1811 (depending on which version you read), a Chimayó settler named Bernado Abeyta was performing the customary penances of the Society of Penitentes when he saw a bright light shining from a hole in the ground. Digging down, he found a large crucifix with a dark Christ. He and the other villagers carried the crucifix in grand procession down to the nearest church, some eight miles away in Santa Cruz. The next day, when the villagers awoke, the crucifix was back. The story goes that the procession was repeated two more times before the villagers realized they needed to build a church on the spot.

Abeyta petitioned the priest in charge of New Mexico missions for permission to build a private shrine on the site.  Completed in 1816, the Santuario remained in the Abeyta family until 1929, when it was turned over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, New Mexico

El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, New Mexico

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Click here for more images of some of the historic missions and churches of New Mexico.

10 Comments

  1. Wonderful shots Mark. I visited this location last year but didn’t capture it as well as you did. Bad time of day, too many people etc. After seeing these images, I wish I had gone back. Beautifully framed and gorgeous warm light.

    • We deliberately timed our run from Taos to Santa Fe so that this was the stop closest to sundown as I knew the angle of the sun here would be pretty good. To say the least, I was not disappointed. Many thanks for your comments, Len.

  2. Love the rich vibrant colors in these, very nice!

  3. Beautiful warm light, Mark. Really makes these image ‘sing’

  4. New Mexico is definitely on my list of places to visit. This look like a great spot. Beautiful images Mark.

  5. Fantastic colors and light in these shots, Mark.

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