Good Friday pilgrimage draws thousands of pedestrians during holy week

Apr 4, 2023 | Press Release

NMDOT reminds motorists to watch for walkers

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Transportation is committed to creating safe passages along state roads for the annual Pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayò located one mile northwest of the Santa Cruz Reservoir in northern New Mexico.

El Santuario is a 206-year-old National Historic Landmark and carries religious significance. The adobe church is said to have sacred soil within its walls containing miraculous healing powers. The shrine draws thousands of people during the Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.

“Growing up in northern New Mexico, I have made the journey to El Santuario many times,” said Transportation Secretary Ricky Serna. “This long-standing tradition is a unique part of New Mexico culture. Now that I’m personally connected with NMDOT’s commitment to pedestrian safety, I am more aware of the dangers these walkers can face. For many years, the department has taken pride in preparing the roads for a safe journey and our role will continue for years to come.” 

Some pilgrims will begin their journey from as far away as Albuquerque (91 miles) during Holy Week, with the largest crowds on Good Friday, April 7.  Maintenance crews are preparing for walkers coming from all directions leading to the village of Chimayò.

Most pedestrians travel along high traffic roadways including US 84/285 which runs from Santa Fe to Española, through Pojoaque and Nambé. Crews will sweep NM 84/285, 503 and 76. Traffic signs and electronic message boards will alert motorists to ‘WATCH FOR WALKERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.’  The same message will be displayed on NM 47 in Los Lunas to bring awareness to motorists as pilgrims walk to Tomé Hill in Los Lunas.

New Mexico State Police will provide security at the church and traffic control. Santa Fe and Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Departments will also provide traffic control. Two medical units will be set up and one first aid station will be available on NM 503. In addition, Santa Fe County will provide porta-potties.

The NMDOT reminds motorists to expect minor delays, slow down and give pedestrians plenty of room to walk. Pedestrians are reminded to wear bright, reflective clothing items whether traveling during the day or at night, carry a flashlight or glow sticks, wear comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen, dress in layers, pack band aids, take plenty of water and plan to carry your trash with you until you can dispose of it properly.