World Reviewer rating

Not yet rated

Church of Chalma

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Mexico.

Pin It

Near the city of Cuernavaca is situated the pre-Columbian sacred site of Chalma. Its early history shrouded in myth, Chalma was long visited by pilgrims making offerings to a statue of Ozteotl, the Dark Lord of the Cave. Pilgrims would walk for days through the surrounding mountains, wearing flowers in their hair, then bathe in a sacred spring and drink its holy water before entering the cave. The statue of Ozteotl, a black cylindrical stone reputed to have magical healing powers, was identified with a deity of human destiny or with a god of war. Various stories tell how two Christian friars, arriving at the cave soon after the Spanish invasion of Mexico, destroyed the Indians' idol and replaced it with a statue of Christ. Over time the cave entrance was enlarged and the shrine was dedicated to St. Michael. The statue of Christ remained in the cave until 1683 when it was brought down to a newly constructed church. The original statue was destroyed by fire in the 18th century and the statue which is venerated today was modeled with its remains.

Thousands of Catholic pilgrims flock to the site throughout the year, giving thanks for prayers answered or to make wishes. Today’s pilgrims, often carrying flowers as their pagan ancestors had done, walk traditional paths to Chalma. Many walk the last leg of their journey at night, the light from their torches and candles making a luminous trail up and down the deep ravines. Women carry small babies; old men hope for a miraculous cure; and young folk seek an adventure. While some other Catholic pilgrimages involve suffering, pilgrims to Chalma pray through dancing. Upon entering the charming baroque church, pilgrims light a candle and place a milagro (small metal talisman) in a box before the altar. In the shrine there is also a wall covered with simple paintings, photos and other personal tributes displayed as thanks for miracles granted. Behind the church flows a stream where the peregrinos (pilgrims) bathe in water from the same spring which fed Ozteotl's cave.

More about Chalma from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

There are no posts. Why not be the first to have your say?

Post a comment, review or question

I want to
Question
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?
 

Who's been here

No travelers have told us they have been here. Have you?

Similar Experiences

  • Angkor Wat

    There are two great complexes of ancient temples in Southeast Asia, one at Bagan in Burma, the other at Angkor in Cambodia. The…

  • The Great Pyramid

    The Great Pyramid is the most substantial structure of the ancient world, and one of the most mysterious. Constructed from appr…

  • The Parthenon

    The supreme expression of ancient Greek architectural genius, the Parthenon has enchanted painters and poets for two thousand y…

Nearby Experiences

  • Condesa df

    From the same group of Mexican design hotels as the ever popular Habita (Mexico City) and Deseo (Playa del Carmen), Condesa df …

  • Cave of Swallows BASE Jump

    The only legal restrictions in BASE jumping are those attached to jumping from other people's property. So, instead of the Buil…

  • Sotano de las Golondrinas

    Located in Mexico's Sierra Madre Orientale, the Sotano de las Golondrinas ("Well of the Swallows") is the world's most spectacu…

Related links

Contribute to this page