Chapel at Chimayo

It seemed appropriate that my cell phone reception cut out about 30 minutes away from the holy site we intended to visit. We were on a two lane highway coming south from Taos, New Mexico to the Sanctuary at Chimayo. The silence from the 90s Alternative music gave me an opportunity to reflect on those who need healing, the site we were going to was known amongst Native Americans and Catholics for it’s healing dirt. Many people who make the pilgrimage walk from miles away as a sign of their devotion, many carry crosses.
There are many legends about how the Sanctuary at Chimayo was founded. The most popular one is that don Bernardo Abeyta saw a light coming form the ground on one of his fields. He dug there with his bare hands to find a crucifix. He took it to a priest who then carried the crucifix to his own church in Santa Cruz and placed it upon the altar there, only to find that it was missing the next day. It was later found back at the place it was discovered in Chimayo. This happened two more times and it was apparent that the crucifix wanted to reside in Chimayo. Abeyta then asked to build a chapel at that spot believing that the crucifix and land it resided on had healing powers.
When we entered the chapel it was evident the reverence shown by the pilgrims. There were people praying, lighting candles, and venerating the different artwork in the chapel. I passed the altar rails and through a small little doorframe to the left. to come into another room full of crutches, a testimony to those who left them there when they had been healed. Through a smaller door was the dirt room where there was a small hole in the ground said to have been were Abeyta unearthed the crucifix. I thought it appropriate that we had to kneel before it in order to retrieve some dirt.
It’s no wonder people call this the Lourdes of Chimayo. People from all over were there seeking to be healed. In Acts 19:12, Paul is able to heal people from handkerchiefs and aprons that he had touched. So, believing that dirt can heal is not a long stretch in the Christian’s imagination.
I do know a universal truth. We are all looking to be healed from something, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. God promises us that through him we will be healed, in this life, or the next. I hold onto those promises as I let the dirt settle into my hands.

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