El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico

Nearly 10 years ago, when I came to El Santuario Chimayo on pilgrimage, it was undergoing major restoration, inside and out. When I returned this past spring, I was impressed with sweet smelling, flowering trees lining spacious courtyards. Restored signage clearly indicates Mass times and Historic information.


Original window gratings and adobe bricks are left exposed in areas, to show the original building style.


A walk through the visitor’s center tells the story of how the Santuario de Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas came to be, the story of the penitente brotherhood and the early church in New Mexico. I reflect upon how much of that early spirituality still pervades the local and surrounding areas, even into Southern Colorado.










Today we are just in time for Mass. Father Casimiro Roca who has spent so much of his life devoted to the preservation of the Santuario is there with us. He now walks across the uneven flagstones with the assistance of a cane and a caregiver.



Outside, cattle graze in the valley below. Their gentle lowing makes me homesick for my little ranch. But I have given up my livestock for this life on the road. I smile at sweet memories and new adventures. From the upper courtyard, I can see the amphitheater below, in front of the shrine to Our Lady. The Stations of the Cross still meander along the river bank.


Today we are more inclined to check out the surrounding area. Tamales and hot drinks are sounding good, but alas, Leona’s concession stand is closed today. We continue up the road to see if we can patronize some of the local businesses that thrive during the tourist season. Maybe we’ll get some chile powder made from the famous New Mexico chiles, or blue atole – blue cornmeal which is  cooked into a delicious cereal or drink.


Ireland’s Rich Religious History – Guest Post


Ireland, known by many as the “Island of Saints and Scholars” has a rich, inspirational and sublime spiritual heritage.  Monastic settlements were founded in many different parts of Ireland.  The fame of these monastic settlements, the quality of their education, their saintly and prayerful way of life attracted many from Europe to come and spend some time in Ireland.  Many of these monks established monastic settlements in many different parts of Europe.  It has been said many times that the Irish monks rescued Europe from the ravages of the vandals who plundered much of Europe during what is often known as the “Dark Ages”.
There is hardly a place in Ireland which does not have a close association with an Irish saint.  The locals are very conscious of their links with their local saints and celebrate these links with great devotion at specific times during the year.   They are very conscious of the heritage they have inherited.  It is not unusual for a community to have its local schools, one of its streets named after its local saint.  Local football teams and clubs are also named after the local saint, such is the awareness of their identity with their local saint.
 Saints such as St. Patrick and St. Bridget need no introduction.  Others almost as well known include St. Brendan, St. Kevin, St Columba, St. Ciaran, St. Enda, St. Finbarr, St. Gobnait, St. Oliver Plunkett, St. Mel and St. Malachy.  Theirs is a heritage which is richly cherished, valued and treasured by the locals in those parts of Ireland which are closely associated with these respective saints.
Many of the most scenic parts of Ireland are very closely associated with the saints in Ireland. Places such as Knock, Lough Derg, Glendalough, Croke Patrick and Clonmacnoise are enchanting, captivating, picturesque and prayerful.  What about a day’s retreat on Lough Derg, the island so closely associated with St. Patrick, the island to which so many Irish people return each year to their renew their faith?  Or what about Mass out in Inishfallen, one of the many islands in the Lakes of Killarney?  Maybe one would like to visit Knock in Co. Mayo?   Knock is one of the most important Marian Shrines in the world and draws huge numbers of pilgrims each year. Maybe one would like to visit Ballintubber Abbey or Holy Cross Abbey, places of worship which have barely changed despite their antiquity. All these sights can be seen on an O’Connor Autotours Religious tour program either tailor made or by taking part in their popular Celtic Cross program.
 Combine all this with the opportunity to see the Green Isle and have a relaxing holiday.  Whether the sun shines, the fog lies low on the mountains or the rain falls, the vista constantly changes as one travels around the shores of this beautiful country one calls the Emerald Isle.  And there will also be opportunities to do some shopping if so wished by the members of the group. 
One will return home, invigorated and renewed, refreshed and energised, revitalised and strengthened in one’s faith and beliefs.  One will view life from a more affirmative and more positive perspective.
The list of places to visit is endless, the choice is yours.  Every effort will be made to accommodate the wishes of the group. The aim will be to make sure that all the members will value the time spent on pilgrimage and will recall their pilgrimage as one which will have a bearing on their lives in the years ahead.  In all cases the group will have their own Spiritual Director which will add immeasurably to your pilgrimage experience in Ireland.  For further details of the service provided by O’Connor Autotours please view the following link www.oconnorautotours.ie/ireland_tour_religious.html   or contact them by email oconnorautotours@eircom.net
Guest post courtesy of Michael Clifford, O’Connor Autotours, Religious Tour Director/Driver-guide, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.  O’Connor Autotours website includes details on all their tour packages, including day trips, rail and private tours.  They also have links to many other Ireland travel resources.  
No compensation was received by Catholic Traveller or O’Connor Autotours for this guest post.