Roadside Shrines

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I have often wondered -- what are the stories behind the tiny arched chambers I've noticed by the side of the highway in southern Arizona? As it turns out, these miniature shrines are known as capillitas (small chapels), grutas (grottoes), or nichos (niches), and carry important religious significance in the Hispanic culture. They are often erected as the fulfillment of a promise upon the granting of a prayer -- for example, that a loved one safely return home from an overseas war. Perhaps they are placed in memory of a loved one who has passed on. Whatever their origin, each continues as a place of devotion and prayer. The form and the furnishings (statues, flowers, votive candles) are that of the church, but in miniature; like churches, each capillita is a microcosm of the human experience: birth, life, death, history, eternity. As I paused on my journey to photograph and pay my respects at these shrines, I discovered that each one is a window into the great and eternal mystery.




At the intersection of Highways 97 and 96, a few miles south of Bagdad, Arizona.
Last visited: July 2009.
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Next to the Casa Ramos Mexican Family Restaurant on Highway 260, Heber, Arizona.
Last visited: October 2009.
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St. Joseph Catholic Church, 10901 Arizona 69, Mayer, Arizona.
Last visited: May 2013.
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West side of Highway 69, 0.3 miles north of mile marker 277, near Mayer, Arizona.
Last visited: October 2009.
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In Memory Of
George Christakos
11.12.79     11.23.98



West side of Highway 87, between mile markers 198 and 199, just south of interchange with Bush Highway, northeast of Mesa, Arizona.
Last visited: June 2013 (now gone).
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Alex Rodriguez
June 03, 1989 - April 17, 2010



In front of the Westward Motel, 66915 Salome Road (1 block east of Highway 60), Salome, Arizona.
Last visited: July 2011.
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South side of Interstate 10, 1/4 mile east of mile marker 39, east of Quartzsite, Arizona. Note: The shrine is in a small cave in a hill that can be seen from the freeway but is not accessible from the freeway; this photo was taken from a moving vehicle on the freeway.
Last visited: March 2011.
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In the front yards of homes, Phoenix, Arizona.
Last visited: September 2009 - May 2015.
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In the front yard of a home, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Last visited: September 2010.
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In the front yards of homes, Tempe, Arizona.
Last visited: May 2008 - May 2015.
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West side of Rural Road just north of Ray Road, Tempe, Arizona.
Last visited: August 2010 (gone when revisited in October 2011).
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RIP
Patrick
10-26-89 - 04-14-08



In the front yards of homes, Guadalupe, Arizona.
Last visited: April 2011.
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Calle Azteca at Calle Cerritos, Guadalupe, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2009.
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In the front yard of a home, Mesa, Arizona.
Last visited: June 2009.
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In the front yards of homes, Chandler, Arizona.
Last visited: February 2011.
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In the front yard of a home, Sun Lakes, Arizona.
Last visited: October 2014.
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Highway 60, 5 miles west of Miami, Arizona (at mile marker 232).
Last visited: April 2010.
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Luke Waddell
Dec 9, 1971 to Aug. 10, 2007
Alive In Our Hearts.



On south side of Highway 60, 2 miles west of Miami, Arizona (at mile marker 234.5).
Last visited: April 2010.
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This large shrine is meticulously maintained by Ruben Licano; he built it in 1977 to fulfill a vow made while serving in the Army during the Korean War.



Oracle, Arizona, on the south side of Highway 77 at mile marker 102.3.
Last visited: May 2016.
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Gina Anne Marie Benavidez



Highway 60, east of Pie Town, New Mexico (at mile marker 63.2).
Last visited: April 2010.
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Tomé Hill, east of Highway 47 between Belen and Las Lunas, New Mexico; access via Tomé Hill Road. A rough and steep half-mile hiking trail leads from the parking lot on the south side of the hill to the shrine at the summit.
Last visited: April 2010.
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Behind San Felipe de Niri Church, 2005 N. Plaza Street in Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico (was in a parking lot at the northeast corner of the church; reportedly moved to "front right corner facing the church").
Last visited: April 2010.
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This statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe was carved in the trunk of a live cottonwood tree in the 1950's. It took Toby Avila a year to complete, using only a kitchen knife; he died only two days after finishing the work.



Southeast of Maricopa, Arizona (Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway at White and Parker Road).
Last visited: March 2013.
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Robert Muraira Jr.
5-22-60 - 5-24-95



Southwest of Maricopa, Arizona (300 feet southeast of intersection of Warren and Robin roads).
Last visited: May 2016.
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This Memorial is Dedicated to Raymond L. (Ray) Morrow II
Sunrise April 30, 1968
Sunset August 20, 2008
Always In Our Hearts
Loving Son, Brother & Friend



Interstate 8, 1 mile west of Aztec, Arizona exit 73 (at mile marker 72).
Last visited: March 2013.
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Blanca H. Valenzuela.
* 11-16-1964     + 04-30-2007

Jazmin I. Valenzuela.
* 12-04-1990     + 04-30-2007



Hwy 238 northeast of Gila Bend, Arizona (at mile marker 11).
Last visited: November 2008.
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Hwy 85 south of Gila Bend, Arizona (between mile markers 6 and 7).
Last visited: November 2008.
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Elisa B. Loza
June 19, 1941 - Sept. 29, 2001
Recuerdo de tu familia quien te extranamos mucho aunque te fuiste muy pronto te lluevamos en nuestros pensamientos y en nuestro corazones.



Hwy 85 south of Gila Bend, Arizona (at mile marker 10).
Last visited: November 2008.
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Hwy 85 on the north side of Ajo, Arizona at Fees Road (at mile marker 39).
Last visited: November 2008.
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In the front yard of a home, Ajo, Arizona.
Last visited: April 2013.
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Darby Wells Cemetery, near Ajo, Arizona.
Last visited: April 2013.
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Hwy 85 south of Ajo, Arizona (between mile markers 51 and 52).
Last visited: November 2008.
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V.P.G.
* 12 Agosto 1980     + 16 Sep. 2004
Recuerdo de Fernando Padres y Hermanos.



Hwy 85 south of Why, Arizona (between mile markers 56 and 57).
Last visited: November 2008.
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Tohono O'odham Reservation, Arizona.

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Highway 86 at mile marker 57.8.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 86 at mile marker 58.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 86 at mile marker 63.5.
Last visited: January 2010.

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Highway 86 at mile marker 68.4.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 3.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 8.
Last visited: January 2010.

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Highway 15 at mile marker 14.5.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 22.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 27.8.
Last visited: January 2010.

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Highway 15 at mile marker 28.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 29.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 30.6.
Last visited: January 2010.

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Highway 15 at mile marker 35.8.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 39.2.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 40.7.
Last visited: January 2010.

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Highway 86 just east of Hwy 85.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 86 at mile marker 76.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 20.4.
Last visited: January 2010.
Pablito R. Gastelum
* 05-Nov-1986
+ 21-Jun-2003
Q. E. P. D.
Dios, tu me lo prestaste para nuestra dicha,
ahora nos lo reclamas y te lo entregamos con
el corazón hecho pedazos pero hagase
señor tu voluntad. Papacito te queremos mucho.
Michael Lopez
9/6/78 - 9/25/92
Our Beloved Son & Brother
Robert A. Juan
April 29, 1953
Dec. 2, 1979

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Highway 15 at mile marker 41.6.
Last visited: January 2010.
Highway 15 at mile marker 46.6.
Last visited: January 2010.

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San Javier del Bac mission (on side of hill).
Last visited: March 2010.
7431 Mission Road.
Last visited: March 2011.
Erected by the Bishop of Tucson
A.D. 1908
The fiftieth anniversary of the wondrous apparitions of the
Blessed Virgin Mother of God at the Grotto of Lourdes
Dionicio O. Tapia Cramer
Mar. 2, 1989 - Oct 20, 2006
David Tapia Cancio
Jan. 5, 1981 - Oct 21, 2006

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Indian Route 5, 6.6 mi S of Hwy 86.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 1, 8.9 mi S of Hwy 86.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 1, 6.7 mi S of Hwy 86.
Last visited: December 2013.

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Indian Route 34, 7.6 mi N of Hwy 86.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 34, 10.7 mi N of Hwy 86.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 34, 9.1 mi SW of Indian Route 23.
Last visited: December 2013.

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Indian Route 34, 7.9 mi SW of Indian Route 23.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 34, 0.3 mi SE of Indian Route 23.
Last visited: December 2013.
Indian Route 34, 7.5 mi W of Indian Route 15.
Last visited: December 2013.



Frontage road on east side of Interstate 10, Rillito, Arizona (between exits 242 and 240 -- accessible to northbound traffic only).
Last visited: March 2009.
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In Loving Memory of
Maria A. Daniels
July 29 1978 - March 4 1996.



Frontage road on east side of Interstate 10, Rillito, Arizona (between exits 242 and 240 -- accessible to northbound traffic only).
Last visited: March 2009.
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In the front yards of homes, Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2011.
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Silverbell Road just north of Neosha Street, Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: December 2009.
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JUSTIN THOMAS GIN
April 14, 1985 - August 25, 2007



1651 Tumamoc Hill Road, Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: April 2014.
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THE LUMINOUS MOTHER
Mosaic by Greg Schoon 1999
Rest a moment, Offer a prayer, A blessing receive, Go in peace.



On "A" Mountain in Sentinel Peak Park, Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: December 2009.
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4310 E. Grant Road, Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2010.
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374 Melwood Avenue (at Emery Street), Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: November 2010.
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El Señor de los Milagros
(Lord of the Miracles)

In the side yard of a private residence, accessible to the public via a gate. Posted hours are 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., rosary Thursdays 6:30 p.m.



356 South Main Avenue (just south of Cushing Street), Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2009.
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HISTORIC SITE
EL TIRADITO
(The Wishing Shrine)
This is the only shrine in the United States dedicated to the soul of a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground. It is affectionately called "El Tiradito" -- The Castaway. The many legends about its origin all involve a tragic triangle love affair in the early 1870's. The mysterious powers of "El Tiradito" are still an important part of local Mexican lore and culture. This site is on the National Register of Historic Places.



2620 W. Ajo Road (0.2 mile east of mile marker 69), Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2011.
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3840 W. Ajo Road (0.3 mile west of mile marker 68), Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2011.
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Kinney Road just west of Sarasota Boulevard, west of Tucson, Arizona.
Last visited: March 2011.
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Romero Family
Papi Y Chella



St. Theresa School, Grants, New Mexico (Santa Fe Ave. & Smith St.).
Last visited: October 2009.
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Remember
Emma M. Sakelares
God's Worker
1923 - 1981



Long Beach Sagely Monastery (formerly Carmelite Chapel), 3361 Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, California (just west of Redondo Avenue).
Last visited: March 2011.
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Pray For
John and Agnes Rauen
and the Dolan Family
In Memory of
Thomas F. Stokes & Rosetta S. Dolan




Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.


Revised: May 22, 2016
Copyright © 2008-2016 Joe Orman (except for plaque texts)
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