USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Mexican saints’
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Protection

Santo Toribio Romo and Protection

Background

Informant: A.G.  22 years old current senior in undergrad at USC, third generation from Honduras/Mexico

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Context

A.G. learned this story from his mother who had friends that had crossed the border into the United States from Mexico. Given that Catholicism is a popular religion in that region, many people look to the patron saints for guidance in times of confusion or fear. The saint, Toribio Romo, has become one that immigrants pray to for assistance while crossing the boarder, and has become a widely known figure in the Mexican domination of religion as a result. I have transcribed A.G.’s telling of the story below:

Main Piece

“Before my mom’s friend crossed the border from Mexico to the United States, he did a lot of preparation and praying for the trip. He also talked to a lot of my friends about people they knew that had gone and arrived safely and one of them told him a story about the Santo Toribio Romo. His friend’s  family had traveled across the boarder with another group of their friends. They traveled throughout the day and the night and only stopped when it was necessary but one day, they got lost and then ran out of food and water for a couple of days. They kept walking but had no idea which way to go. As they were walking tough, one of the people in the group said that he saw an oasis and a man who looked like a priest standing next to it telling them to go where he was. Everyone figured that the man was hallucinating from the desert, but they all followed him and hoped it was the way to go. When they went towards the oasis direction, they found out it was the right way to go and eventually made it to the United States. When they all arrived and settled down, the man who claimed to have seen the oasis called his wife and told her what he saw. She told him that it was because she prayed for Santo Toribio Romo to guide them and he was the one who appeared to them near the oasis.”

Thoughts

This story impacted A.G. in its general message of family and the strength of family ties, even in times of separation and turbulence. The initial fear that is experienced when a family must separate in order to immigrate is captured in the story itself, but also the strength and love that is expressed, especially by those that are not making the initial journey with their family. A.G. remarked that the story gave him hope, because to him it illustrated the importance of having family and people who care about you to pray for you and be there for you when you need them, even if they can’t be physically present. It also meant a lot to him, given that his family had experienced something similar and he felt a particular cultural tie to the experience.

There are many stories and variations of stories in which a saint or a guardian angel comes down and intervenes of behalf of the believer and to their benefit. I find that these stories, and belief in them serve the purpose of both inspiring hope, and in validating the religion and the existence of supernatural or other-wordy occurrences that are related to Christianity. Stories like this are important for the morale of people in difficult times, as they can offer a glimmer in an otherwise incredibly difficult situation, yet they still benefit the religion overall if people experience or hear of experiences related to saints.

Folk Beliefs
Protection

San Martin Caballero

San Martin Caballero

“San Martin Caballero es un Santo que se usa mucho para los que tienen un negocio. Se tiene que tener simepre una imagen de San Martin Caballero para que le de a uno buena suerte en los negosios. Tambien se usa mucho para alejar las envidias y que le hagan a uno alguna brujeria. San Martin Caballero tiene una frase que dice ‘lo que siembras, cosecharas’ que va perfectamente con un negosio propio porque es como aseguransa de que todo el esfuerso que hemos hecho nos traira Buena fortuna… yo tengo esta imagen en mi restaurant porque me dijeron que es Buena suerte y pues todo lo que traiga Buena suerte es bienvenido. Que alcabos, si un bien no me hace, un mal tampoco.”

“San Martin Caballero is a saint that is highly used among those who have a business. One has to always have an image of San Martin Caballero to bring good luck in the business. It is also used to get rid of jealousy and to prevent one from getting any kind of witchcraft. San Martin Caballero has a phrase that says ‘whatever you sow, you shall cultivate’ which goes perfectly with one’s personal business because it serves as insurance that all the efforts that we have made will bring us good fortune… I have this image in my restaurant because I was told that it was a good luck charm and well anything that can bring good luck is welcome. Either way, if it doesn’t do me any good, it can’t harm me either.”

This informant is a 41 year old male who has lived most of his life in the USA. He was born in Mexico and migrated to the US when he was 13. He however has no real educational experience because he never attended school. Most of his knowledge is passed down from his peers. He is now a successful business owner with 3 kids and a wife. His new concerns are teaching his children the cultural customs he grew up with so that they don’t lose touch with their Mexican heritage.

In my opinion, this story of having identities out there helping one in their daily life seems very interesting. The fact that one can rely on another invisible identity to help take some stress out of the ordinary life is incredible which is probably why people use saints as a way to ease some of the concerns they may have. In my opinion, everyone should start having identities they can relive some of their stress onto. Furthermore, something else I find interesting is that this informant was not able to tell me where exactly this belief in the saint came about so I can only infer that this was the case because it is fairly common for people to confide in this saint. Therefore, no one knows exactly where the belief in this saint in particular for businesses came about. Regardless, this story of the Saint is incredible even if one is not a believer.

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