Santuario de Chimayó feast — ‘one of the most important fiestas’

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Many hundreds of people are expected to congregate Jan. 15 at the venerable and famous Santuario de Chimayó on the annual occasion of the Feast Day of the Lord Jesús Cristo (crucified) de Esquípulas, which is one of the most important fiestas in Northern New Mexico.

Most people know of the santuario as a powerful and miraculous spiritual center, where those who are suffering afflictions of the body, mind, heart or spirit can obtain profound consolation and even healing from a special melding of their own faith, of the blessed earth there and an inherent blessing source there as well.

And at the same time, the santuario is said to be home to a spiritual power located in the old church at Chimayó, a spiritual force which surges from the altar and from the carved santo image of the crucified Christ, the Lord (señor) of Esquípulas, over that altar.

Every year, the pastor of Chimayó, Father Julio Gonzales, together with the Rev. Casimiro Roca, have invited everyone from the north – and indeed from everywhere – to this eminent occasion, including the hermanos of La Fraternidad Piadosa de Nuestro, Padre Jesús Nazareno and other religious societies and fraternities to participate in the Mass and in the processionals and other devotions.

Last year’s fiesta marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of that morada, the Oratorio, by Don Bernardo Abeyta at that location, which is now known in the world as El Santuario de Chimayó, the “Lourdes of America,” which receives more than 300,000 pilgrims each year and especially during Lent and Holy Week.

The fiesta that day was very amiable, temperate and comfortable. The chant and the songs of the alabados sung by many hermanos from Northern New Mexico sounded clearly in the crisp sunny air while everyone proceeded, led by the guía de Cristo and the large carved bulto, and in the solemn Mass.

The 200th anniversary of the santuario last year was special because Padre Casimiro Roca was not present for the first time in more than 50 years at the Fiesta de Esquípulas, and all who were there profoundly felt his absence and prayed for him and besought his intercession as a “saint of the people.”

Padre Roca of the Santuario de Chimayó passed to the better life Aug. 4, 2015, at the age of 97. Father Roca was “the rock” and a force of the santuario in his work to establish and grow the santuario as the major spiritual center it has become and in his spiritual transforming aid given to many thousands of people, the visitors and pilgrims there.

Many people have commented that Padre Roca “was a saint” in his life and now in the better life. He himself never pretended to anything like that because he was a humble person. He would say that he was only a simple priest trying to do the work of the Lord.

A group of advocates has begun to advance the mission and the process for the sainthood of Padre Roca, believing that he has demonstrated the heroic virtues as a servant of God. The group is asking that testimonials in his favor be gathered from those who he helped and blessed.

Questions or information about Padre Roca may be directed to Father Gonzales, pastor of Chimayó, or at dfblessingway@kitcarson.net. In the meantime, all are invited to the Feast of Esquípulas at the santuario – and anytime. It is a true, holy and healing blessing center in the world.

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