- Purchase/rental options available:
New Mexico’s Santuario de Chimayó, a two hundred-year-old Hispanic, adobe church, is among the most significant sites of Catholic pilgrimage in the United States and is best known for the miraculous healing dirt that devotees, pilgrims, and other visitors gather from a hole in the floor of a side chapel. While the Santuario was a place of occasional and local pilgrimage from its beginnings in the nineteenth century, in the years following World War II, the church became the destination of a massive, annual Holy Week pilgrimage that grew throughout the twentieth century. Today, over 30,000 pilgrims walk miles through the stark landscape to the Santuario on a typical Good Friday. Mirroring the growth of the pilgrimage, the Santuario simultaneously became one of New Mexico’s premier religious and heritage tourism destinations, and half a million tourists visit the shrine every year. Historical research as well as fieldwork reveal that the movement, behavior, and even the intentions of pilgrims and tourists to Chimayó interweave, making it necessary and fruitful to examine pilgrimage and tourism together at the Santuario. Although not identical, a study of the Santuario de Chimayó demonstrates that modern pilgrimage and tourism correspond as interrelated rituals of meaning-making.