Saturday, July 09, 2011

Taos and Chimayó

One day, while in Santa Fe, we decided to drive up to Taos. We took the high road through the Sangre de Christo mountains and stopped in the little town of Chimayó to see the Santuario de Chimayó, a Catholic Chapel built in 1816 on the site of a supposed miracle. It is now known as the "Lourdes of America" for its pit of holy dirt that pilgrims come for. It is thought to have healing powers. The adobe chapel is quite beautiful.

Nearby is a smaller, more modern chapel that is beautifully painted in a folk tradition.

As non-Catholics, Ray and I tend to scoff a bit at the idea of "holy dirt" and miracles in general, but there is always something so compelling to me about these beliefs and traditions and the beautiful art and architecture that they inspire.

The sun was shining brightly and the sky so blue it almost hurt to look at. A beautiful day! We continued up the road to the town of Taos, then a bit beyond to Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. These buildings have been continuously inhabited for more than 1000 years.

We started at the little church of St. Jerome, where we met a young member of the community who led us on a walking tour of the pueblo.

The ruins of the old church of St. Jerome, destroyed in the War with Mexico by the U.S. Army in 1847. That church, the ruins still evident on the west side of the village, was first built in 1619. It was then destroyed in the Spanish Revolt of 1680 but soon rebuilt on the same site. St. Jerome is the patron saint of Taos Pueblo. 

What a beautiful place. What a beautiful day! I'll never forget it.


  1. Chimayo is one of my all time favorite places that I have visited. I brought some of the holy dirt home with me. I am so glad you got to go there.

  2. Anonymous3:23 PM

    I also have some holy dirt from charming Chimayo, as I figure it doesn't hurt to cover all the possibilities. I wonder if you walked down behind or beyond the little chapel towards the river (I think - it has been years) to a fenced area where folks that visit the site have made and mounted hundreds of tiny crosses made of sticks into the chain link fence. I found it fascinating to consider who made them and what drove them to stick them into that fence.

  3. I'm not sure about holy dirt in the Catholic sense, but I could easily see the breathtaking beauty of the land and the adobe structures built from it as spiritual.

  4. Thanks for the travelogue. These are places we have visited, some a long time ago, some a year ago. They all reverberate for me.

    I was interested to hear more about your O'Keefe experience. I never imagined her paintings to be sparsely painted -- the reproductions make them look lush and like velvet -- thick. I can see how they would disappoint.

    But the awesome pueblo revival (and original pueblo) buildings never disappoint. They are rich and thick and full. I guess that's what I expected of O'Keefe.

    I'm reacting to all your travelogue rather than to just one or another of posts. We almost never shop when we travel; Jer hates it and I weary quickly. And yet if you don't do it regularly, you miss good stuff, like your vase. And your bird. But lots of photos help soothe my desire to have it all, at home. My greed probably is what stops me; I want too much.

    Thanks for the visions of some parts of our lives up to now.

  5. It sounds as if you had a wonderful time on your vacation. There used to be or maybe still is a restaurant in Chimayo, naturally called "Rancho de Chimayo". I always loved eating there when I was in that area.

  6. Anonymous4:48 AM

    This is bringing back such wonderful memories of our trip cross country in 1995. I can see these places when I close my eyes.
    Thank you.