7 Religious Wonders: Give Thanks For These Spiritual Sites

Give Thanks For These Spiritual Sites

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7 Religious Wonders
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Christ In The Desert

Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com
The monastery of Christ in the Desert is a man-made, natural and spiritual spectacle. The long gravel Forest Service road you turn off onto from U.S. Highway 84 just north of Ghost Ranch parallels the Rio Chama for much of the way, affording a series of eye-catching vistas and great scenery until you suddenly catch sight of the soaring adobe bell tower of the monastery at the end of the trip. Stay for Sunday mass, chanted by the Benedictine monks (or even better, spend a few days there in the guest house), and you will understand why this place is hard to classify. (Jerry Ortiz y Pino)

Plaza Blanca And Dar Al Islam Campus

Just outside Abiquiú is the Dar al Islam campus, designed by world-renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. The site includes a mosque and school complex, a lecture hall, residential units and offices. Established to educate people about Islam, unite Muslims in the United States and celebrate diversity, Dar al Islam holds various retreats and workshops. Nearby are the white sandstone cliffs and rock formations of Plaza Blanca. Ethereal and beautiful, the area has a reputation for providing solitude and inspiring a kind of spiritual awe. (Summer Olsson)

Kagyu Shenpen Kunchab Bodhi Stupa

It’s one of those “only in New Mexico” moments. You’re driving along Airport Road, just past the Santa Fe Country Club golf course, when it dawns on you that a giant, gold-tipped Buddhist shrine is peaking above a trailer park. If you think the outside is arresting, wait until you get an eyeful of the inside. It’s alive with a mind-bending rainbow of tantric murals, mandalas, the teachings of Buddha through time—each exquisitely ornate, each dripping with layer upon layer of sacred symbolism. Wow. (Laura Marrich)

San Francisco De Asis Mission Church

Constructed by Franciscan friars from 1772 to 1815, this adobe mission sits on Ranchos de Taos Plaza, four miles southwest of Taos. The church has vigas, twin bell towers, adobe buttresses, an internal courtyard and the largest altar screen in New Mexico. Many artists, such as Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand, have used the church as a subject, making it a popular image. The mission was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970, but it still has an active congregation. Visitors can also enjoy shops and galleries around the plaza. (Summer Olsson)

El Santuario De Chimayó

Courtesy of Summer Olsson
El Santuario de Chimayó, often referred to as “the Lourdes of America,” is a holy destination for thousands of religious pilgrims during the week leading up to Easter. Walking from as far away as Albuquerque, devotees—flanked by lowrider convoys and baffled onlookers—come seeking miraculous cures for whatever ails them. Legend has it there’s healing power in the dirt trucked in by the ton from nearby hills. The faithful scoop holy dirt from a hole in the floor to rub on their skin. They leave behind crutches, braces and other medical implements as proof of their miracles, lining the adobe walls with walking sticks and draping trees and crucifixes with rosaries. The Catholic Church has yet to confirm the pilgrims’ claims, but that hasn’t slowed their pace or stymied their belief in sacred dirt. (Maren Tarro)

Hacienda De Guru Ram Das Ashram

In this spiritual community just outside Española, American Sikhs practice the lifestyle of 3HO: “healthy, happy, holy organization.” The Sikh religion began in India in the 15 th century and traditionally focuses on uniting with God and promoting equality for all people. Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ashram, which means “home of the wisdom of service to all,” was founded in 1970 by Yogi Bhajan, and welcomes everyone, regardless of religion or creed. Visit the ashram for meditation, a yoga class, a free community meal or just to feel some tranquility. (Summer Olsson)

Loretto Chapel Staircase

The lore surrounding the spiraling staircase inside this storied Santa Fe church goes something like this: When it was built in the late 1800s, carpenters couldn’t figure out a way to build stairs to the overhead loft without taking up most of the chapel’s space. Their intended solution was a ladder. The sisters of the chapel prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, about the dilemma. On the ninth day of prayer, a man rode up to the church on a donkey with a toolbox in hand. He built the circular staircase and left without payment. The sisters searched for the man, going so far as to run an ad in the local paper. When he still didn’t return, they decided it was St. Joseph himself who erected the staircase, which has no visible means of support and no nails—only wooden pegs. (Christie Chisholm)

Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com

Courtesy of Summer Olsson

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