Nationality: United States of America
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
The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my co-worker/informant (MR).
MR: So when you ask a saint for a blessing and then you have to make a promise to them. For instance, I would say a prayer, and then when it is fulfilled I would promise to come back to the saint’s temple and crawl from the beginning of the temple to the altar.
HS: What are some examples of saints that you have performed these acts for in the past?
MR: I’ve been to the temple of the Miracle Baby Jesus, or even another saint that is more well-known is the Virgen de San Juan de Los Lagos. She is the saint that cures sick people. So you ask her to heal you or anyone else. So people go to her temple in my home of Guadalajara but it is not just a place that you casually go to like a church here in the United States. It really varies. Some people trek for miles and miles and miles. People walk on foot from their homes for days. In my case, I just drive up to the entrance because I don’t have the time for all that. And then once you actually arrive at the temple itself, you crawl on your elbows and knees from the entrance to the altar and then leave a candle and family picture of us four, like my mom, my dad, my sister, and myself in an area where you’re allowed to leave stuff.
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.
These religious traditions were brought up while having a general discussion with my co-worker about her culture and traditions. I had just watched an episode of one of my favorite shows that included a scene where Roman Catholic Mexcian crawl on their hands and knees to worship an idol and so I decided to ask my coworker about it. 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.
I have been extremely interested in Roman Catholicism ever since I watched the Breaking Bad series. While watching the series, I had no knowledge of any traditions pertaining to the religion and was confused when out of nowhere, I saw Mexican drug lords peacefully giving up all of their material possessions and crawling on their hands and knees with other people trying to cross the border. This scene in the series made me curious about the tradition, and so, knowing that my coworker came from a devout Roman Catholic family, I asked her about the subject. She was quick to inform me that the drug lords were crawling on their hands and knees to ask the saint Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte for protection as they cross the United States-Mexico border, but that the tradition of crawling on one’s hands and knees to honor saints was widespread across all of Mexico out of respect for them. She also informed me that Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, is a cult and is not recognized by her church.
For more info on these saints:
Allison McNearney. “The Death Worshipping Cult of Santa Muerte: From Argentina to Canada, There Is No Religious Movement Growing Faster, Says an Expert. But How Serious Is Worshipping ‘Saint Death?’” The Daily Beast, The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC, 2015.
Graziano, Frank. Miraculous Images and Votive Offerings in Mexico. Oxford University Press, 2016, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790869.001.0001.