A Story of Three Churches: In the Footsteps of Willa Cather in Northern New Mexico

by Leanne Ogasawara

El Santuario de Chimayo

1. El Santuario de Chimayó

We arrived in Chimayó in the lull after Easter. Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the small hamlet lies about forty-five minutes north of Santa Fe. If I hadn’t seen videos of the great crowds that throng the sanctuary during Holy Week, I wouldn’t have believed this humble adobe church in the middle of nowhere could be the host of the largest number of religious pilgrims in the U.S—but that is what it is.

Known as the “Lourdes of North America,” many come in search of a cure—for as an old woman says, in Willa Cather’s 1927 novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, the mud is known for its medicinal qualities:

Once upon a time, the world was full of miracles.

Chances are you will meet someone suffering from illness or from a broken heart in Chimayó. In our BnB, we met a gentleman whose wife had fought cancer for a decade. She loved visiting the church and praying with the friar. And now that she is gone, her husband comes alone with his memories. For him, Chimayó has been a place of sanctuary that gives voice to his pain, which is perhaps a kind of miracle… Read more »