Religious Object

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican, Salvadorian
Age: 22
Occupation: Sub-Contractor
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: April 30, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Saint Spray

“Sometimes I buy St. Anthony spray. It’s a spray that contains holy water, like you see in church, but it’s in a spray can. There’s a prayer on it and I read it in English and Spanish. Then I say my own prayer. Then I spray it around wherever I want to get rid of the bad vibes. I sprayed it in my car last week to get rid of the bad memories that I have had in it. I believe it works, you just gotta believe.”

Frank is Catholic, but the origins of this “Saint Spray” come from Santeria. I know this because I am learning about it in my “Religions of Latin America” class. Santeria and Catholicism are closely related and share the same roots. Afro-Latinos that are descendents of a mix of Spanish, Indigenous, and Africans that mixed after the conquests. They created their own religion called Santeria that is derived from Catholicism. The same saints are prayed to in both religions, but they have different names sometimes.

The spray cans actually come in a variety of saints, which represent different aspects of life. Saints are chosen based on what one wants to pray for or what they are having trouble with. For example, St. Anthony is a patron of many things, including but not limited to animals, the elderly, seekers of lost articles, travelers, and harvests.

The spray can be defined as a superstition or as a religious object. That is to say, not all Catholics use or believe in the Saint Spray. Some discount it as Santeria, to which is notoriously more related to vodun.  Yet, as some sprays represent Catholic saints and contain prayers, the Catholic and Santeria faiths can overlap in certain practices, as some people firmly have faith in the holy saints.