Their journey may start a few miles away, or from as far off as Taos, Las Trampas or Albuquerque. They are of every age and physical condition, some jogging along while others ride in strollers or wheelchairs. Some carry crosses; others carry oxygen to assist their breathing.
These are the pilgrims who flood the roads to El Santuario de Chimayó on Good Friday, a tradition in New Mexico for more than 60 years now. The event has become famous worldwide.
Pilgrims are drawn to Chimayó not only during Holy Week, but year round. The Church of the Ascension in Albuquerque and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos both sponsor 100-mile pilgrimages to the chapel, usually in early June.
But Good Friday holds a special place for Catholic worshipers as the day that Christ suffered and died on the cross.
“This is an embedded part of our culture, which is mixed with our religion. It’s an expression of our faith,” said Richard Valez, who frequently made the pilgrimage when he was growing up in Santa Fe. Valez has lived in Albuquerque since he was 18 years old, but still makes the effort to do the pilgrimage.
“After the sacrifice our lord made for us, I’m using his example as a way to sacrifice in this minimal way,” said James, who was walking with his cousin Geraldine.