17 06 2008

 Steadfast fidelity is the very essence of Faith;

(Therefore) if the (idol-worshipping) Brahmin (who has faithfully spent his entire life and finally) dies in the idol-house, (you may rightly) bury him in (the holy precincts of) the Ka’aba

[From this site]

Chuy Malverde

17 06 2008

These individuals will be made saints by the Vatican three years after hell freezes over.


-Jim Griffith, in an interview in the Tuscon Weekly

Jesus Malverde is a Mexican folk saint very much in the news. He is now supposedly the “patron saint” of drug smugglers, and his cult stretches all the way from California to Cali, Colombia. Many doubt that he actually existed, but if he did, he was probably a Robin Hood-like bandit executed by hanging in the twilight of the reign of Porfirio Diaz in 1909. His shrine is in Culiacan in the northern state of Sinaloa.  It is said that his first miracle was when a farmer looking for his lost head of cattle saw the bones of Malverde rotting on the tree and asked him to help him find his lost property. He found it soon afterward, and the legend was born.

Since Sinaloa, being a northern state, was a natural venue for the drug trade, people began to invoke Malverde for their various dealings, along with more conventional requests. They even wrote a corrido (ballad) for him that has been covered by many Mexican popular bands, like Los Cadetes de Linares:

A partial translation of the song:

It’s been good for me all year, that’s why I come to visit you. From Culiacan to Columbia, long live Jesus Malverde! This hung saint who has brought me good luck!

My image of you always has a candle burning in front of it in your honor, and I always carry your photo with me wherever I go, and especially in all my dealings, I always find your blessing.

While Malverde may not be a saint of my devotion, I don’t necessarily think that his cult is as horrible as some have made it out to be. It is certainly nowhere near as bad as the cult to “Most Holy Death”, and the circumstances are a little less bizarre than the cult of Juan Soldado in Tijuana which had my grandmother as a devotee. Besides, the poor guy can’t be blamed for the actions of those who pray to him, and many pray for his intercession in matters of health, job searches, and other things. He represents, in the end, the Mexican distrust of authority and the desperation of people who often do not have many options in life save prayer.