When I was a child, enthralled with Batman, it was made clear to me by Sister Mary Torture, and others, I wasn’t to bother Jesus with my problems. Only those pesky Protestants thought they had a Bat Phone directly to God not understanding that is what one’s Guardian Angel was for. In fact, in second grade we were to make room in our seat for our angle. Poor Patty True had a husky angel who eventually pushed her out of the seat and onto the floor. An event of angel aggression so shocking, I still remember it.
On the off chance my Guardian Angel was napping or otherwise momentarily distracted by my antics, there were the saints. Each saint not only had a day but had a specialty running the gamut from health issues to help taking tests. In addition, we were each given a saint’s name at birth to be our special protectorate. Your saint’s day is called a feast day up North as you got to pick the dinner meal, it is your Saint Day here and celebrated like an additional birthday. These saints are around to take the load of Jesus.
If all else failed I had his mother to make requests of. Talk directly to God? That’s just silly talk.
On a recent cemetery tour I had an elderly foreign resident very upset that the conquered indigenous didn’t feel able to talk directly to God, in much the same manner I grew up with, but for far more profound cultural and historic reasons. She was simply stunned into anger and disbelief.
If you were the indigenous conquered by the Spanish, you were a conquered people in every sense of the idea. Conquered people don’t have a hotline to the head guy. Hence why there are so many versions of the Virgin Mary. The various versions (Mary as a baby, mother, widow, etc.) make her more relatable, plus like all those saints, she was human just like me and you. And everyone knows a lad has to do what his mother asks of him! Plus the indigenous already had a culture of faith built around powerful females. Even the goddess of death was a woman.
The mindset of being conquered expands beyond faith.
For example, Americans pushed the English out pretty quickly and went on to conquer more folks and land. Hence, to us, one must “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” and “Go get a job!”
However, here for centuries the locals were conquered by foreigners, forced to join their faith and culture. If generations spent their lives reliant on the actions, and money, of a folks not from here is it hard to imagine begging in the jardin today is all that different?
Layered on top of all this was the centuries of caste based on race which influenced exactly how far one could advance in life.
All these factors led to the notion of God being far removed, and far above, the ordinary world. If an intermediary is more understandable, accessible, and successful with your pursuits and requests there’s a good reason to support them.
Hence why all the local processions, celebrations and alike are sponsored by individuals and groups, not the Church. If a saint or Virgin has been helpful to you, you’ll gladly pay for the flowers, tamales, choir and priest to celebrate that person’s help.
Just like Sister Mary Torture stressed, there are always angels, saints and Virgins around town to give you a hand, or push you onto your arse!
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin