Published: Mar 28, 2013 12:25 PM EDT

CHIMAYO, N.M. (AP) - Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit one of the most popular Catholic shrines in the Americas this weekend for Easter, which comes just weeks after the first pope from the Americas was elected.
    
Around 50,000 people are expected to descend on El Santuario de Chimayo (CHEE'-mah-YOH') in New Mexico, and officials say even more may make the trip due this year to the excitement over Pope Francis.
    
The adobe chapel in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, sometimes called the "Lourdes of America," attracts its biggest crowd around Holy Week.
    
Some pilgrims will make the 90-mile, three-day walk from Albuquerque to the shrine that houses "el pocito," a small pit of holy adobe-colored soil that some believe possesses curing powers.
    
Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia says traffic patrols will increase from Thursday to Sunday for safety.

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