La Juana Figueroa

17 06 2009


This time from Salta, Argentina:

According to sources such as Felix Coluccio’s Cultos y Canonizaciones Populares de Argentina and a folklore site from Argentina, Juana Figueroa was the wayward wife of Isidro Heredia, who was beaten to death by her husband during an argument about her infidelities. While by no means a woman of virtuous life, her “martyrdom” made her a “miraculous soul” especially for housewives in unhappy marriages. Her traditional day of veneration is Monday, and people gather around the shrine seen above and ask for a miracle.

It all seems like a the sacralization of a telenovela, but such spectacles are not uncommon throughout Latin America. As I have shown before, from Tucson to the pampas of Argentina, violent death is seen to have a canonizing authority all its own. Coluccio, however, tries to see a deeper cultural and religious significance in this cultus:

“Poor thing! How much she must have suffered! Who knows what really went on in their house! What do men know about women’s problems?” These and other expressions flowed in answer to my questions , one Monday afternoon next to the devotional tree, where I went as a curious observer. Before the popular feminine sentiment that forgives and overlooks a shameful fall, I could not but help think of the goodness of the Lord as He looked over the Magdalen: “Thy sins are forgiven… go in peace.”