Santa Fe, New Mexico is surrounded by the Sangre De Cristo and Jemez mountain ranges. For generations the area has been considered a sacred place for healing, reflection, and transformation. Spiritual seekers of every kind have flocked to the city and surrounding mountains on a quest for life’s answers. No particular religious belief holds sway over Santa Fe; it’s a spiritual equal opportunity destination where many have found solace or awakening.
A Brief Spiritual History
Anasazi and Pueblo Native Americans have revered the sacred high-mountain landscape for centuries. By the 17th century, Spanish Catholics arrived and coined Santa Fe the City of Holy Faith. Presbyterians and other European Christian religions began to call Santa Fe home by the mid-1800s. Eastern religions began arriving in the 1900s. Buddhism, Sikhism, the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, New Age and New Thought practitioners, nature based UDV followers of Brazil, and countless others dotted the mountain landscape, all drawn, either consciously, or not, by the energetic pull of something greater than themselves.
Santa Fe is flush with opportunities for every seeker, regardless of their commitment (or lack thereof) to a particular religion. Healers and shamans, writers and poets, yogis and body workers, and all types of artists from painters to sculptors have been drawn here for years. Maybe it is the sacred ruins of the area, the epic mountain vistas, the restorative hot springs, or the stars themselves that bring people here, but the attraction is undeniable even to the most hardened skeptic. Ana Pacheco, City of Santa Fe historian, explores this phenomenon in her book, A History of Spirituality in Santa Fe: The City of Holy Faith.
Sacred Sites in Santa Fe
If you find yourself inspired to experience Santa Fe for yourself, there are several locations that have resonated with seekers before you, some of which may appeal to you, as well.
A favorite among Christian pilgrims is Chimayo in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside of Santa Fe. The shrine there is believed to mark the spot of a miracle where a friar unearthed a six-foot crucifix. Since then, thousands of pilgrims have visited the crucifix for healing – either physical or spiritual. Visitors are allowed to remove a handful of holy dirt from where the crucifix was found. The pile of eye glasses, crutches, and other medical devices is a testament to the healing sought here.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
This Cathedral is at the end of Old Santa Fe Trail on Santa Fe Plaza, the historic epicenter of Santa Fe. Built in 1610, it is home to the oldest statue of the Virgin Mary in the U.S. Its stained glass windows are from France and depict the 12 apostles. If you are as interested in the history of Santa Fe as the spiritual architecture of the city, Santa Fe Plaza is the place to begin your exploration of both.
Temple Beth Shalom
Spiritual home to around 350 families, the synagogue is open to practicing Jews, secular Jews, non-Jews, the LGBT community, and all others of every race, background, and persuasion who feel an internal connection to Judaism, or Jewish life. The progressive and reformist synagogue houses two historic scrolls: the Las Vegas Torah, a scroll of the Ten Commandments, and a Holocaust scroll from Czechoslovakia. One of the synagogue’s commitments is to tikkun olam – “repairing the world,” which they put into practical application in the city of Santa Fe.
Upaya Zen Center
This Buddhist center welcomes people of every faith for daily meditations and weekly dharma talks. Located a few miles outside of Santa Fe, it provides a quiet space in nature to step away from the busy-ness of life and experience a quieting of the mind and engagement with silence. A vegetarian lunch is available after the noon meditation, and the center offers programs and retreats for interested seekers.
Santa Fe Activities for Body, Mind, and Soul
There are a number of activities in and around Santa Fe that encourage visitors to stay in the present moment and appreciate what is in front of them. Climb the stairs to Cross of the Martyrs, which honors 21 slain Franciscan Monks. You’ll find an expansive view of Santa Fe. Yogihiker provides a guided 2.5 hour trek through nature combined with simple meditative poses along the way to connect with the earth and yourself.
Forty-five minutes outside of Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument, where you can explore centuries-old archaeological sites, cliff dwellings, and petroglyphs to connect with the ancient past. You can spend contemplative time with the works of artist Georgia O’Keeffe at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the only museum in the world solely dedicated to an internationally renowned female artist.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of spiritual connections, practices, and spaces in and around Santa Fe. It is, in fact, a small taste of what is awaiting you here. If you’re ready to commune with like-minded people or take a solitary retreat, reading about The City of Holy Faith should be your first step.
Discover more books from Arcadia Publishing about the history of New Mexico.