Friday, November 14, 2014

7 QT: A Santa Fe Pilgrimage

In which I reminisce about a business trip to New Mexico that turned into an impromptu pilgrimage.

--- 1 ---
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Of course on any business trip our work days start early so we need to be in town the night beforehand. I arrived in Sante Fe, NM on a Sunday afternoon and took a short walk down town. It was surreal to see widespread use of Christian imagery in a way that mixes gross consumerism with new age spirituality. (Later that week we would visit a small cafe decorated with sacred hearts which also hosted appointments with a local fortune teller.) So I was relieved to see the extremely prominent Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. I ducked in and lit some candles in front of the St. Anthony statue and rested on a bench nearby.

--- 2 ---
Loretto Chapel Miraculous Staircase

A couple weeks before the trip I told the ladies in my rosary group that I would be in Santa Fe. They were so excited and insisted that I visit the Loretto Chapel with the miraculous staircase. I was told that this staircase was built free of charge by St. Joseph. This staircase is supposedly an engineering marvel. No doubt Joseph was a great carpenter, so why not? I committed to finding this staircase and offering a special prayer for the ladies through the intercession of St. Joseph. One of the ladies who has a particularly strong devotion to St. Joseph asked me to leave a prayer intention, which she sealed in an envelope. It's standard that special shrines and chapels have a box where special intentions can be left.

--- 3 ---

At some point I got to the chapel and this is what I saw!! The Loretto Chapel is now a tourist attraction that charges for admission. Slipping back into surreality, I paid my $2.50 and looked, bleary-eyed, for a place to leave my friend's intentions. The chapel is beautiful and largely unchanged since the nuns left, aside from the monumental effect of having been deconsecrated. I have to say that it seems extremely well cared for despite the tacky sign out front. I thought about shoving the prayer envelope under the donations box… not appropriate. So I prayed for the ladies and told St. Joseph that I would find some other way to get the prayer to him.

--- 4 ---
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Aside from failing in my divine mission to deliver the envelope to St. Joseph, we started the week victorious. On Monday I woke up early enough to attend Mass with a couple of friends in the side chapel of the Cathedral Basilica. I had just finished RCIA and been Baptized two months ago but I managed to stifle some mild performance anxiety and got through Mass without embarrassing myself or anyone else.

--- 5 ---

Thanks be to God, with the help of some ladies working in the gift shop at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was able to find the perpetual adoration chapel at their adjacent parish. Being on the grounds of this more modest parish, much less interesting to tourists, I felt more at ease. In the off time throughout the week, I stopped at the chapel a couple of times to sit with Jesus in the Eucharist. In particular, I asked Him what to do with the letter.

--- 6 ---
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe

The actual Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a beautiful stucco church with a huge statue of the Blessed Virgin. As I traipsed around the grounds I saw that Our Lady was accepting many written petitions. Back at the hotel I wrote a cover letter for the envelope my friend had given me and put them both into a larger envelope I found in the hotel desk. My letter asked Mary to share the intentions in the envelope with her husband St. Joseph. I left it in the box next to the Mary statue and decided to take a look inside the building.

--- 7 ---
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe

Inside there is an altar, with a gorgeous altarpiece, that unfortunately doesn't seem to be used for Mass (at least not regularly). It shows scenes from the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when St. Juan Diego saw Our Lady and somehow her image was left permanently on his tilma. I recommend the book Maria of Guadalupe to anyone who is interested in learning more.

The following is a Youtube video explaining the appearance and miraculous nature of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The tone of the reading is a little dry but the facts are interesting (Protestants take note: there is a statement toward the end against Martin Luther and Protestant sects).

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