On the same road trip to El Santuario, Chimayo, we discovered another chapel I hadn’t seen before. Just a few hundred yards from El Santuario is the Chapel to Santo Nino de Atocha. According to legend, when loved ones were imprisoned, the Christ child would come and take food and water to them. When the families saw the worn out shoes on the statue of little Jesus, they would replace them with new ones, which would soon become worn out as well, as Santo Nino continued to bring provisions to their imprisoned loved ones.
Santo Nino de Atocha Chapel is dedicated to children. Its whimsical décor is reminiscent of childhood, with carved trees, birds, flowers and fanciful sculptures. A nearby shrine holds hundreds of pairs of tiny shoes, thank you tokens for miracles received. A Milagros chapel inside the shrine holds hundreds of other tiny gifts, left in gratitude for healings received.
During WWII, many National Guardsmen from this area of New Mexico died. Survivors attributed their lives to the intercession of Santo Nino de Atocha. Devotion to Jesus as Santo Nino had been encouraged by Severiano Medina, who built the chapel near El Santuario, in gratitude for healing from a severe illness.
Today, the chapel is fully restored and a delightful dessert to the serious meal of El Santuario de Chimayo. One does not have to walk very far from either one for some distinctive New Mexico chile.
Lately my 9 year old has been wanting to say the Rosary as a family. I am thrilled with this new development, as I have been trying to encourage it for years, but I wonder what has brought it on. Naturally, he has several fairly nice rosaries, as well as some funky plastic ones. He knows how to say the Rosary, as we frequently say it in the car (with or without his participation) and it is said before Sunday Mass at our church and at the holy hour we attend on Thursdays. Yet, this family Rosary has been instigated at his request.
He does have a special intention – the healing of his 9 year old cousin who is having open-heart surgery in a few weeks. But why this particular prayer method? I can only think that, in addition to divine inspiration at work in his heart, all our family discussions, in which there are many disagreements, seem to meet in agreement on one thing – the power of praying the Family Rosary. Thanks be to God!
Today is the first Saturday of June. My dad’s roses are blooming profusely. After so many Marian celebrations last month, my thoughts have turned to the First Saturdays and how they got started. It’s been a few years since Catholic school, and I live out in the sticks, where we’re lucky to have “daily” Mass once a week. So I did a little research on the First Saturdays.
A couple of months ago I was priviledged to participate in the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Guadalupe within our Mexican community. Once a year, a couple from Prescott brings a life-size portrait of the Virgin to our small town and She visits a number of homes where we gather for a nightly rosary, singing and a snack or meal afterwards. The food is always wonderful, the fellowship is comforting and the prayer time is liberating. More than one person has remarked on the relief experienced after laying his or her troubles at the feet of Our Lady.
This last visit lasted two months. Though it was often difficult to drag myself out of the house in the evening, when all I wanted was to eat a simple meal in front of the TV or read a good book, once I got there the power of shared prayer and devotions worked its healing magic on my weary body and mind.
Now that the Pilgrim Virgin has moved on, I struggle to say my daily rosary. The day gets so busy that when evening finally comes I am so tired that I fall into bed, reach over for my beads and maybe make it past the opening prayers before sleep overtakes me. On days when we have somewhere to go, we manage to say the rosary in the car. Living 50 miles from anywhere does have its perks. Sometimes my best time to say the rosary is in the evenings when I am topping off water troughs for the animals. The rhythm of the prayers, the cool of the mountain evening and the glory of the Arizona sunset just seem to lend themselves to meditation. Even then, frequently the boy is pestering me to play cowboy squirt guns or throw the baseball with him. Well, we keep trying. And we are truly blessed!