On a hill overlooking tiny San Luis in southern Colorado, a series of statues lines the trail from base to crest. It’s the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross and the trailhead begins on the town’s Main Street.
San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town (settled in 1851), is a quiet burg with few other attractions, but this one is stunning.
Local sculptor Huberto Maestas – a San Luis native whose works have been placed in buildings and landscapes all over the world – crafted the 15 two-thirds-size sculptures that comprise the stations. They depict the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The emotive bronze sculptures line the winding trail up what some call the town’s own Golgotha – or “La Mesa de la Piedad y de la Misericordia” (Hill of Piety and Mercy) in Spanish.
At the top, there’s a life-size sculpture of the crucifixion, which is covered by a cloth during Lent, and removed on Easter Sunday morning. There’s a lovely white chapel here, too, and it offers a silent place to sit and meditate.
Maestas’ art studio is on Main Street, half a block from the foot of the hill.
The sculptures, erected in the late 1980s, were conceived by Maestas and the Rev. Patrick Valdez (“Father Pat” to the locals). They have become something of a pilgrimage destination for Catholics and other Christians. Miniatures of the statues are included in the Vatican’s art collection and when Maestas went there to present them, his hands were blessed by the pope.
Special events are planned at the shrine during Holy Week and Easter, but visitors come all year round to walk the trail and contemplate.
Pilgrims visiting San Luis may find few other attractions – the local history museum has closed, as have some longstanding Mexican restaurants. But you still can stay at El Convento, a restored turn-of the-century-convent across the street from the town’s 1886 adobe Gothic church, the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) church. It’s rustic but clean – and you’ll probably be awakened by church bells, not an alarm clock.
If You Go
Directions: From Interstate 25 south at Walsenburg, head west on U.S. 160. At Fort Garland, turn south on Colorado 159.
Lodging: El Convento, 719-672-3685; or the San Luis Inn, 719-672-3399
Dining: The choices are limited to Sam’s Covered Wagon, which serves Mexican fare. Or try Rosa Mistica, a coffee shop-turned-restaurant, which has a full menu. Information: San Luis Visitors Center, 719-672-3002.
Linda DuVal is a freelance writer who lives in Colorado Springs