Faith across the border


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                                     Click on image to be directed to CurrentTV video 

Years ago, while traveling in Guatemala, I stumbled upon a procession of people singing religious songs. The were carrying a shoebox with a tiny plastic baby doll inside. The doll, which represented Jesus, was being brought to a house where the village members filed in to pray before the thumb-sized effigy.

Since then, I’ve often been struck by the amount of faith that people place in God, Jesus and assorted saints in certain Latin American communities. The Catholic religion was imposed on the local indigenous population during the Spanish conquest, but faith existed long before then in different forms. As a result, the Catholic tradition was also expropriated by the local population in unique ways.  For example, the dark-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s most revered religious icon, is seen by some as a synthesis of the Virgin Mary. 

Here are a couple of videos that caught my eye over the past month that provide some visual reference points to religion and faith in Mexico:

In December, an estimated 7 million Mexicans make a pilgrimage to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe, some of them crawling on their knees. The video is by Deborah Bonello of the Los Angeles Times and you can see it here.

The Saint of Death has come to be a figure referred by drug traffickers and others who live life on the edge. The reporting, hosted on CurrentTV, is done by former Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Weekly reporter Daniel Hernandez who is working on a book about youth culture in Mexico’s interior. You can see the video here.

Screen shot of CurrentTV video, reported by Daniel Hernandez

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