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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
March 2, 2008

The Cross and “Holy Dirt”

    America is well known for many things.  It is the land of plenty, the land of the free and the home of the brave. America has much to offer immigrants arriving from foreign lands. The country is spacious and has many rolling planes as well as high and majestic mountains.   The American people are known for their love of independence and their practicality especially in matters of finances.  Americans love to travel and to visit interesting places both at home and abroad.  Yes, indeed, American has much to offer.

    With all that we have to offer, perhaps the least well known is a small town in New Mexico called Chimayo.  It is home to a shrine that seems to be America’s best kept secret.  It is a perfect spot for people of faith who also want to take in the beauty of the Southwest.  The small town is found in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, not far from Sante Fe.  Chimayo is often called the Lourdes of America.  It is hard to believe that we have our own shrine and most of us didn’t even know it.  The shrine is very small but it has some 300,000 visitors each year.  The biggest day of the year is Good Friday when there are as many as 30,000 people who come sometimes walking from as far away as Albuquerque.

    Perhaps the reason that few Americans have heard of Chimayo is that there was no apparition associated with it.  There was a large cross that was found on the site and when considerable effort to relocate the cross failed because the cross miraculously returned to its original place over a period of three tries, it was decided that the cross was meant to stay put.  A small chapel was built to give the cross a home. Pilgrims began to visit the chapel and rather than sprinkle themselves with water as they would at Lourdes, people would touching the dirt that filled a hole where the cross was found.

    Why is it what Lourdes is so well known world wide while Chimayo seems to be such a local secret?  Could it be that we, as Americans, have too little faith?  Or do we see this shrine as a place that is too local?  Could it be that it is too small and not worth the extra effort to visit such a small “hole in the ground”? 

    There have been many people who have been healed after visiting the shrine.  Like Lourdes, Chimayo has many crutches, canes, braces etc. hanging on its walls in the sacristy.  The secret of course, is that all visitors must have faith in order to be healed.  Isn’t that the same story we hear in the Gospel stories? “Your faith has saved you,” Jesus said many times over.  That was the crux of the matter and it still is.

    So, if any of us have the faith and we have the urge to travel to the Southwest region of the country, why not take a little trip just outside Sante Fe to a small hole in the ground where we can have the experience of a lifetime?  We may return a new person. 

    Happy travels!  

                                 Lorette P. Nault