Holy Week sees thousands of Latinos on pilgrimage

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With the start of Holy Week – the most important tradition for many Christians – thousands of Catholics from northern New Mexico will walk on a pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó, a church in the village of Chimayó, New Mexico, to mark Good Friday.

There they will take the dirt, or pocito, from a room adjacent to the church’s central worship space and rub it on their bodies to benefit from its supposed miraculous healing properties. The power attributed to this dirt lies in the legend around a crucifix found in the spot, which is also part of the origin story of the church.

The story of the pilgrimage is fascinating, but as scholar Brett Hendrickson, who participated in an annual pilgrimage as part of his research, writes, it is not “merely a curiosity”: As the U.S. Catholic Church becomes majority-Latino, this pilgrimage signals a larger demographic shift in the nation.

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Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor/ Director of the Global Religion Journalism Initiative

Thousands of Catholics travel by foot to Santuario de Chimayo, in northern New Mexico, during an annual Good Friday pilgrimage. AP Photo/Morgan Lee

An annual pilgrimage during Holy Week brings thousands of believers to Santuario de Chimayó in New Mexico, where they pray for healing and protection

Brett Hendrickson, Lafayette College

Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the Santuario de Chimayó throughout the year, but the pilgrimage during the week before the celebration of Easter is the high point.

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