- Associated Press - Friday, April 14, 2017

CHIMAYO, N.M. (AP) - Thousands of New Mexico Catholics are making the annual pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, an adobe church north of Santa Fe.

It’s been an Easter tradition for 200 years. Around 30,000 people journey to the adobe shrine annually. Some park near the shrine and walk a few miles to it. Other participants walk about 30 miles (48 kilometers) to reach it from Santa Fe.

Once there, participants also collect dirt near the adobe church, which they say has healing powers.

People say they make the journey for prayer, reflection and sacrifice.

Jose Munguia has undergone the pilgrimage for seven years. During his first trip, he said his family was going through financial trouble and he hoped God would help him find more work. Munguia said his efforts paid off.

“I feel like you have to sacrifice a little bit in order to receive,” Munguia said. “It’s hard for people who don’t believe in this to understand, but faith can do a lot of things for you. If you have faith, you can achieve everything you want.”

This year, Noah Martinez of Albuquerque said he walked 90 miles (145 kilometers) for the sake of his religion. The journey is a family tradition for Martinez. Although the walk does come with its danger, he said.

As he started his walk in 2012, a car hit him after it hit a patch of ice. The impact caused a ligament in his leg to tear.

But, Martinez said it’s not all bad. Some drivers support him by honking at him. Others insist he takes drinks or snacks from them.

“Compassion knows no prejudices,” Martinez said. “I used to always say no when people stopped, but then I realized it was their way of contributing to the walk, even if they don’t do it or don’t believe in it.”

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