Chimayo’ and Santa Fe

Chimayo' and Santa Fe
Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM


Heading north on I-25 out of Albuquerque, Karen pointed out the Pueblo-style decorations on the freeway overpasses. Each pueblo chose the designs for their location. Sorry about the bus mirror in the middle of the photo! Only way to get this shot.

Our first destination Thursday was Chimayo, a small village on the Santa Cruz River. Chimayo is known all over the world as the Lourdes of America, famous for its healing powers. The Catholic church here, known as the Santuario or Sanctuary, was built over the spot where a miracle happened, and the sandy soil in the room to the left of the altar is known for its healing properties.

Chimayo is a popular pilgrimage destination, and if you travel I-25 during Holy Week, you will see many pilgrims walking along the road, hoping to reach the Santuario by Good Friday. They carry small and large crosses with them, which they often leave here along the entry path.

Karen gave us baggies so we could scoop some of the healing dirt, and I purchased some small plastic and tin boxes for sending some to friends. I have great respect for healing magic, but the smart ass in me also got a kick out of this little sign in the gift shop.

After leaving the Santuario we visited the Ortega Weaving Shop and Galleria. This family has been weaving gorgeous clothing, rugs, and blankets for generations. Their giftshop carried a huge stock of books about the Conversos and their history in New Mexico.

From Chimayo we drove into Santa Fe for lunch and a free afternoon at the civic plaza and two of their wonderful museums. Santa Fe became the capital of New Mexico in 1610, and the palace of the governors is considered the oldest government building in the US. Today it houses the New Mexico History Museum. The people who sell their jewelry, pottery and other crafts here are licensed by the state to insure their products are authentic.

Another interesting stop in old Santa Fe is the Cathedral of San Francisco de Asisi. The cathedral stands out because it is not in the Pueblo style, as it was built by Archbishop Lamy who was influenced by French styles. Over the door is a triangle containing the Hebrew letters for the name of God, and there are many stories about why it’s there. The one Karen shared with us had to do with Archbishop Lamy thanking the local Jewish merchants who helped finance the building. Lamy is said to be the subject of the Willa Cather novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Outside the cathedral is this statue of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first North American Indian saint. She was a Mohawk from New York, but the statue was made by local artist Estella Loretto.

No photos allowed inside the museums, so I only have this one of the typical Spanish courtyard interior. We spent the afternoon looking at the historical displays of the New Mexico History Museum, then checked out the Museum of Fine Art. The Georgia O’Keefe exhibit was undergoing renovation, which was disappointing, but they did have a fascinating exhibit on the history of the guitar.

Friday morning the program closed with a visit from Maria Apodaca, another New Mexico Converso who is returning to her Jewish roots. Maria talked about her childhood interest in the world’s great religions, and her many current activities in the Jewish community. For example, one of the local synagogues now has a Sefardi dinner once a month, and there is a newly formed New Mexico Jewish Genealogy Society.


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