Almost every New Mexican is familiar with the holy sand in Chimayo, but you likely haven’t heard of the healing springs of Los Portales.
“Oh, these portales have been here forever,” said Ray Romero as he hiked up the trail to the cave.
About an hour west of Albuquerque, well removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll find an altar hidden in a cave in the tiny village of Seboyeta.
“This is a special place for the people of the Seboyeta Land Grant,” said Romero.
Romero grew up in Seboyeta and says the shrine at Los Portales has been around for centuries.
“They used to celebrate mass here at that time because Our Lady of Sorrows wasn’t built until the early 1800s,” said Romero.
Los Portales is said to have been a place of refuge for women and children, during the settlement.
“So they could come and be safe while the men were out, kind of fighting for the land,” said Angel Garcia. She has explored Los Portales with her kids.
Legend has it, the natural springs on each side of the altar have healing properties.
Up until years ago, a mass was still being held at Los Portales. Now, services are only held in the local church.
Remembering one Easter mass, “We had live music out there and the people were having a ball,” said Romero.
He also said he’d like to see the old tradition return someday. Even though locals no longer worship there regularly, there’s still a strong spiritual connection.
“It’s a place where you feel kind of connected to the land I guess,” said Garcia.
Los Portales is dedicated to Saint Bernadette. The people of the Seboyeta Land Grant maintain Los Portales.