CHIMAYO, N.M. (KRQE) – Thousands of people walked to El Santuario de Chimayó, as part of a long tradition of people making these pilgrimages on Good Friday. Some people along the route talked about what inspired their journey.

All along the roadways, groups of people walk for miles around, some carrying crosses and mementos of loved ones, as they trek up to El Santuario de Chimayó. When asked what keeps them going to get to the church on their long journey: “Your faith. Your faith,” said Henrietta Martinez, who came with family from Arizona.

People come from far and wide to keep the tradition alive: “For us, it’s a tradition, not just a tradition but the faith behind it. The faith that our grandparents and our parents taught us as we were growing up, we just relive the faith,” Martinez said.

They also walk to honor and remember loved ones: “It’s a fulfillment, spiritually for myself for my family and in this pocket, I carry pictures of all my family,” said Dolores Dominguez, from Silver City.

Some people walk through the desert carrying heavy burdens like large crosses. “On this cross, if you noticed there’s several names on here. It’s just a lot of people I’ve lost, a lot of family members. It initially started as a, I used to walk with my uncle, and this was his cross when he passed away, so it was made for him and I put his name on here and I walked with it and it just became an annual thing,” said Johnny Garcia, from Española.

Others walk simply with their memories: “My wife. She passed away in November and I wanted to bring a candle over here and light it for her,” said Edward Rubi, from Albuquerque.

Some say they’ve made this trek for many different reasons, but one of the biggest was the sense of community. “Just praying for everybody, for the world,” said Eileen Jimenez.

“We wanted to get away from TV and electronics and experience community. We wanted to make sure that we support our spiritual life, especially coming after some very difficult years,” says Alexis Martinez Johnson, “This is a very special place for many New Mexicans and this to me, the areas of Chimayo and as well as Espanola is the very heart and essence of what it means to be a New Mexican in regard to paying homage to your ancestors and continuing the legacy of spirituality and kindness and giving to others.”

People are also taking the walk to Tomé Hill. Three crosses sit atop it, as well as a holy shrine. Electronic signs were placed along Highway 47 to warn people of the hazard. Pilgrims were asked to leave their animals at home, limit cell phone use while on the site, and refrain from leaving additional crosses on the hill.