From Monterrey, climb the Cerro del Mirador mountain, and find the Church of Schönstatt amongst the hilltops. Leave comfort behind, depart on a physical journey, and find peace away from the big city. There are many of these little chapels located worldwide. However, the Schönstatt Catholic movement originated in Germany.
The chapel sits sensitively in the beautiful and quiet landscape. The scenery is idyllic, the brisk winds are reassuring, and the valley beyond creates an atmosphere of tranquillity. Despite the chapel’s unassuming size, it certainly has a way of drawing visitors in closer. When you first catch a glimpse of the structure, the stained glass windows glisten in the sun like gemstones, and the crowning bell perched atop the pitched roof adds a quiet touch of dignity.
It’s almost as if this humble yet charming little church takes on a personality of its own, beckoning visitors closer, whispering, “Look at me, look at me.”
Inside the chapel, sheltered from the elements, the structure cocoons you. The walls are washed with sunlight entering thru the windows, creating a symphony of color. Along the central aisle, the rows of pews at either side lead you toward the altar. There, directly ahead of you, an image of the Virgin Mary is enshrined, beautifully constructed in an ornate dark wood, aka el Santuario de Schönstatt. The daylight streams down upon the shrine of Mary and intensifies the atmosphere of peace and stillness.
Mary’s Road to Heaven, aka María, Camino al Cielo, is a pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary that is open to everyone. It’s a journey that leaves the everyday behind. An upward climb of 1,200 feet. A trail of discovery in the quiet of the mountains. And a pathway to peace away from the bustling city.
Know Before You Go
The María, Camino al Cielo trail is more of a hike than a walk. Ideally, you’ll need trekking poles because, in parts, the climb is quite steep. Though you can manage without them on the way up, the way down is trickier and holding onto nearby trees and branches might be necessary. Moreover, if the conditions are wet, the journey becomes more challenging. The ascent typically takes around two hours, while the descent is more time-consuming due to the incline.
Unfortunately, the church of Schoenstatt is no longer accessible by car, for the road that leads up there goes thru a private gated community, and the residents decided that members of the general public cannot freely pass thru anymore. And some of the people who have tried have reported that, indeed, the security guard will not let you thru, but instead, he gives you an image of the Virgin Mary to take away so you can still pray for her.
The chapel and the surrounding gardens are very well maintained. A caretaker looks after the site, who you’re most likely to find in the cabin on the approach to the chapel. He can provide you with bottled water too. However, bring your own and lots of it, because you’ll need it, especially in the summer months.