A Villanueva Tradition

Our Lady of Guadalupe grotto at Villanueva, NM.

Villanueva is a small community in San Miguel County that resides along the Pecos River. For the past sixty years the people of this village, host a day-long celebration on August 15th, the feast day in honor of Assumption of the Virgin Mary. In 1955 Pedro Gallegos and other local residents built a grotto to the Virgin on the mesa above the village of Villanueva. Each year a religious procession carries a bulto of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The people climb the mesa where a mass is performed. The annual mass is often done by the Archbishop of Santa Fe.

Village Name Change in 1890

The starting point for this annual pilgrimage is at the Church of Guadalupe, which is located in the center of the town. The bulto of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe resides permanently in a nicho inside of the church. On the feast day the saint arrives at the grotto. During the rest of the year a different replica of Guadalupe is above the altar at the grotto.  La Gruta de la Sagrada Familia provides refuge for the villagers of Villanueva in their time of need, and during the feast of the Assumption of Mary, joy in honoring their patron saint.

According to several historians, the founding of the village took place between 1808 and 1818. It’s original name was La Cuesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Later, it became Villanueva when a local shepherd was killed in an Indian raid with the surname Villanueva. In 1890 the village applied with the name Villanueva to Washington, D.C., to open a post office.

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