Milagros

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 30
Occupation: Lead Associate of Operations, Chase
Residence: Laguna Niguel
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/19/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

–Informant Info–
Nationality: United States of America
Age: 30
Occupation: Lead Associate of Operations, Chase Bank
Residence: Laguna Niguel, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/19/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Main Piece:

The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my co-worker/informant (MR).

HS: So what are milagros?

MR: So they literally mean “miracles”, but from the perspective of my Catholic family, they are kind of like a blessing that we would do in my parents’ hometown. Like not a lot of people would know saints from my hometown. People hear about Saint Jude, you know, or, La Virgen de Guadalupe, but there are also lesser-known saints that are only known in the small towns that they had an effect on.

HS: So what is an example of a saint that was special and important in your town just outside of Guadalajara?

MR: Well in Guadalajara the saint that everyone knows is Virgen de San Juan de Los Lagos, but in my mom’s town of Guanajuato, they all know the miracle baby Jesus.

HS: So what are some examples of Milagros that you have?

MR: So you’d ask your saint, for example, I had a major issue with my car motor that would have cost me thousands and thousands of dollars and I didn’t know what to do because there was no way that I could afford that expensive of a repair. So I asked my saint for a Milagro/blessing to help me with the situation and it ended up costing half as much, and so I promised my saint that when I return to my town I will visit and show my appreciation. Another time, at the beginning of COVID, I asked the Miracle Baby Jesus from my parents’ hometown of Guanajuato for a Milagro to protect me and my parents. Luckily my parents never got COVID so I plan on also showing my appreciation for fulfilling my Milagro when I am home.

Background:

My informant is my co-worker from my job. She is essentially my supervisor and she enjoys helping me to practice my Spanish and telling me a lot about her culture and heritage. She was raised in a Spanish-speaking household by two parents who both immigrated to the United States from Mexico. She comes from a devout Catholic family and has taught me a lot of traditions that I didn’t know pertain to Catholicism, seeing as to the fact that I myself was raised in a Catholic family.

Context:

These religious traditions were brought up while having a general discussion with my co-worker about her culture and traditions. We were discussing a tradition/ritual of crawling on one’s hands and knees to honor one’s saint when she brought up the topic of Milagros. She had told me about these traditions before but I asked her to go more in-depth for the sake of the collection project. We were sitting next to each other on the teller line at work and we would chat in-between customers.

Thoughts:

I found this tradition to be very interesting. Although not discussed in this transcription, my coworker showed me a list of tributes that she planned on giving to her respective saints once she arrived back in Mexico. Included in this list were 25 dollar coins for the Miracle Baby Jesus and some pictures of her family. While researching Milagros, I found a very precise explanation from an online article, a “person will ask a favor of a saint, and then, in order to repay the saint after the favor has been granted, one must make a pilgrimage to the shrine of that saint.” This is a very cherished and respected tradition in the social circles of my coworker, and she emphasized how personal a lot of Milagros get, going on to divulge some sensitive details about how the use of Milagros has helped her family through particularly hard times. I had never heard of anything like this before and found the tradition to be rather beautiful and unique. I also came to the realization that Milagros are a way to keep people who have left their hometowns connected to their community in some way. Because the saints that people make their Milagros to are usually particular to the region that they are from, Milagros provide people with an incentive to come back home after they have departed.

The article where I found a good explanation of Milagros:

https://zinniafolkarts.com/blogs/news/36153281-what-do-milagros-mean