Tuesday 6 July 2010

Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico

Santuario de Chimayo
Built in 1816, this historic church attracts worldwide visitors and is still the object to pilgrimages.  Its miraculous earth is reputed by legend to have healing powers.
Another lovely card sent by PostMuse, especially so because I find this style of architecture, adobe, to be very attractive.  Although adobe itself, literally "mud brick", is found all over the world, styles do vary.  Cob, for instance, is fairly closely related but found in the UK, Ireland, and Brittany in France.  None of these look very like the adobe buildings in the USA.

The Santuario de Chimayo is known as the Lourdes of America because of the numbers of people (300,000 annually) coming from sometimes great distances to be healed.
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  1. You can't see some things in the postcard picture.

    There is a small burial ground with tombstones in the courtyard as you approach the doors to the church building itself.

    The miraculous dirt is in a little room off the main sanctuary of the church, off behind the altar, sort of: the flooring has been removed and people continually scoop up dirt to take with them for the healing powers it supposedly has, but the hole never gets bigger. Eerie. I didn't take any.

    There is quite a lot of land behind the church, and if you wander around, you will see hundreds, maybe thousands, of little crosses of supplication in the trees and bushes and wherever. There are also things like crutches (on the walls of the little room in the church itself) that people have left after supposed healing. I say "supposed" because I am not yet a true believer, but I do believe in the power of suggestion and in the healing power of the human mind when immersed in unassailable faith.

    The Sanctuario is the object of walking pilgrimages of many mile each Easter. Often people carry crosses on that long walk. The flagelantes still whip themselves and even nail themselves to crosses, but they remain a rather obscure sect in northern New Mexico.

    Flagelantes are not, incidentally, unique to primitive northern New Mexico, if you've read the book, "The DaVinci Code".

    Chimayo (Chee-mai-OH, accent on the final syllable) is a very small town, and the Sanctuario is on the outskirts, so to speak, just off the little highway that goes through there.

    Speaking of miracles (and New Mexico), I'm sure you are aware of the legend of the miraculous staircase at Loretto in Santa Fe. No? They have postcards as well. :)


  2. Archaeological Adobe structures are quite unique in orientation and tell a wonderful story. Chan, Chan , which is the largest Adobe city in the Pre Columbian Americas, is a labyrinth of mud brick.

    Here's a link if you want to see it.


  3. @Max, thank you for all that additional information. No, I didn't know about the miraculous staircase in Santa Fe but it sounds intriguing. I will find out more, and I'll try to find a card showing a cob cottage for you. I must have one somewhere.

    @Ancient Digger, thank you for the link. It's such an amazing place it would be a disaster if it deteriorates any further.


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