Thursday, April 1, 2010


You don't have to be Catholic - or even Christian - to have Patron Saints. The original patron saint is determined by the date of your birth. By church law, every child at birth is given a Saint's name, a first or given name. There are saints that watch over you, saints assigned to your occupation, saints for every physical illness, saints for personal dilemmas and even saints for environmental crisises to the family pet.

This is my particular favorite, Santo Pascal, the patron saint of cooks and the kitchen! Pascal, or more correctly, Pascal Baylon, often served as a cook and was widely known for his unfailing courtesy and humility.

Here is San Pedro, which translates to St. Peter, or more specifically, Peter the Apostle. Out of the entire world, he was chosen to preside over all the nations and was told "To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Thus, the key the Santos holds high in his right hand.

Francisco or Francis of Assisi is almost always portrayed with a bird on his shoulder or at his hand. He lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches and sent food to thieves. He is a favorite subject for the few, really talented wood cavers who still continue this lost and rapidly disappearing art.

I just visited the Basilica of Our Lady, the parish church in Guanajuato, Mexico. Guanajuato is just an hour drive from San Miguel de Allende. Martin of Charity is best known as the Saint of the Broom because of his devotion to work, no matter how menial. Many miraculous cures were attributed to him. He was the first Black American saint.
A hand carved, wood, Saint Martin.
In the parish church, La Parroquia, in San Miguel de Allende is San Rosque, known for nursing plague victims in his native town. He was driven into the countryside when he himself had contracted the plague. He survived because a little dog (the symbol of fidelity) brought him bread everyday. The sculptured dog is beside the Saint because this being Mexico, he has a bolillo in his mouth which is the typical Mexican roll. Since plagues have come to a halt, his contribution box is ignored.
Below San Rosque is San Martin that replaced him in admiration. After the Virgen of Guadalupe, he ranks second in devotion to the Mexican People.
For years, I have been purchasing the hand carved, wood Santos from Senora Maria Luz Espinosa. Her tidy little shop at Pepe Llanos No. 10, right in front of the Oratorio Church in San Miguel de Allende, is filled to the brim with baskets, wood carvings of all shapes and forms and other hand crafted items.

Getting a little hard of hearing, she still greets me with a twinkle in her eye, a gentle handshake and invites me to sit for a visit.

Being an only child, it was she and her mother that ran the store after her father had passed away when she was only 14 years old. Seventy-six year later, at the age of ninety, she is still going strong. The store originally sold barro (clay pots), ollas cocinar (pots to cook in), cazuelas (clay casseroles) and canestas (baskets). There was a sewing machine in which she made table cloths and napkins. She went on to have 11 children; only 8 are alive today. Other than her lack of hearing, the Santos that surround her, keep her protected and in good health.

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