On Stands Now
June 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Photo by Mikayla Ortega Walkers leave the Cerro Church as they make their way to St. Anthony’s Church in Questa

Que Viva Cristo Rey: Locals Walk for Annual Good Friday Pilgrimage

In the early morning of Friday, March 29, faithful Catholics in northern New Mexico joined together in unity with their rosaries, holy water, and metals to walk in prayer, devotion, meditation, praise, and worship as they completed their pilgrimages to their holy destination.

In Chimayo, walkers start their journeys from as far away as Albuquerque, making their way to the Santuario de Chimayo. Most walkers are in siloed groups and each carry various guides, or Gilas, as they journey to their intended destination.

In Questa, walkers have been making the annual pilgrimage since the 1980s, where they started walking, offering pilgrimages for vocations to the holy life in the church. Fast forward to today, the group still makes the early morning journey starting in Costilla at the Sagrado Corazon Catholic Church. Walkers arrive anxiously just before 4 a.m., preparing for their long day into Good Friday’s pilgrimage. The tradition has historic ties to Spain, a nod to the cultural representation in Northern New Mexico
Through the walk, the Gila, or the cross, leads the group at all times and none of the walkers are permitted to walk in front of it. The group joins in unison singing, praying, and meditating on the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. As the group arrives in Cerro, around 10:30 in the morning, they stop at the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Catholic Church to meet a group of faithful for the Encuentro, or the meeting of Jesus and his mother Mary, similar to how Jesus met his mother on his way to Calvary. A reenactment of this meeting unfolds in the aisles of the church, and Hermanos carry Jesus away from the church to the Morada with the walkers following behind them.

Walkers then continue with new members who have joined them in Cerro, as they make their way to St. Anthony’s Church in Questa. Feeings of exhaustion start to come over many walkers as they continue working to stay in prayer and meditation, making their way through Questa to the church.

At the church, families, locals, and the local priest Fr. Andrew Ifele wait for them as they enter the parking lot singing in unison “Vienen con Alegria,” an ages-old song in Catholic Hispanic communities expressing how those who walk with life in unison with the Lord walk in peace and love, bringing hope to a world laden with anxiety and worry.

When the walkers reach the church, they are free to leave, but many stay through the sacred three hours of Good Friday as they pray the Stations of the Cross, reflecting and praying on the sacred time Jesus was hanging from the Cross, dying for the salvation of the world.