HOLY PLACES IN AND AROUND SANTA FE: A POWER SIMILAR TO FAMOUS SHRINES IN WESTERN EUROPE
By Michael H. Brown
Last Sunday on the way from Albuquerque to the Santuario de Chimayó, as we approached a town called La Cienega, south of Cerillos, I looked toward the mountains to the north and there on the third mountain over from one that was snowcapped in perhaps the Santa Fe Ski Area or for all I know the highland of Chimayó itself I saw a sudden flash of light that was extremely unusual in broad daylight -- thin and extremely tall. At first I thought it was lights on an antenna or cell tower, but once I trained my eyes there -- in this area of the Jemez Mountains, which are along the Sangre de Cristo range (the southernmost Rockies), in the Santa Fe National Forest -- the brilliant "flash" never returned. It was not a blinking tower.
It added to the overpowering, mystical feeling of this special region. I have never been to anywhere in the United States that has holier sites than in this one -- from the "miraculous" staircase at the Loreto Chapel in Santa Fe to the La Conquistadora statue in the central cathedral (by reputation the oldest Madonna in the U.S.) to the San Miguel Mission (the oldest continuously operated church in the country) to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe (the oldest church dedicated to Guadalupe in the states). And then there is Chimayó, which is 22 miles north of Santa Fe and where a miraculous Crucifix was unearthed.
I can say this much: everyone who can do so should visit these places. They are equally powerful. They have the feel of potent shrines in countries like France, Spain, and Italy.
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