Mexican folk prayer, “Angel de la Guarda”

The informant is a 47-year old accountant working in California, originally from Michoacán, Mexico. She lived a modest life as a young adult, having to take care of her family at a very young age while still finding success in management. She then moved to the United States with her husband to raise their family and now works in accounting. She primarily speaks Spanish with English as a second language.  He shall be referred to as MB.

“Ángel de la Guarda, mi dulce compañía, no me desampares, ni de noche ni de día, porque sin ti, yo me perdería.”

“Angel of the Guard, my sweet company, no me abandons, no of night no of day, because without you, I myself lose.”

“Guardian angel, my sweet friend, do not abandon me by night nor by day, because without you, I would lose myself.”

This is a common prayer taught to small children. As MB explained, this is often the first prayer children learn in Mexico, even before the traditional “Our Father” (“Padre Nuestro”). It is often taught as early as the age of three, or whenever children begin speaking. MB explained how this becomes a very personal prayer for small children, who take it as a sign of security. Because it refers to “my” guardian angel, every child who recites it will interpret it as a very personal relationship with a guardian angel. In a Catholic community, MB explained that this reinforces the idea of divine protection from a very young age. It is often recited when children are feeling afraid, or sometimes simply before bed. In that case, it is usually accompanied by a small picture that portrays a tall angel guiding a small boy and small girl over a narrow bridge, crossing over a tumultuous river. This provides a visual reference for the children, who may have trouble with the idea of an unseen guardian angel at first.

MB noted that in her family, her younger sister believed for the longest time that their own picture of the guardian angel was a photograph of herself and her brother, the two eldest children in the family.

By my interpretation, this demonstrates the closeness a child can form with this prayer, even if not directly relating to them. The guardian angel becomes an extension of protection from the home and the family, as the angel can protect children wherever they go. It also encourages an active prayer relationship from an early age, as this prayer does not take on the form of a formal address to God, but a simple, rhyme-based call to the guardian angel. The portrayal of small children in the picture also reinforces a youthful involvement in religious life, particularly to the small Catholic town that MB grew up in.