How Folk Saints are Born

Santo Niño Huachicolero emerges as part of modern-day “folk bandit spirituality” in the state of Puebla in Mexico as the patron of huachicoleros – those who steal gasoline. His iconography is adapted from that of Santo Niño de Atocha, the Infant of Atocha, as shown here in this Instagram post if I can get the embed thingie to work:

The Catholic Church is obviously not happy about this, but this is vernacular religion in action, in direct response to social and economic realities when the official modes of religious observation and praxis do not meet the needs of the people. Thus Santo Niño Huachicolero joins the ranks of figures like Jesús Malverde and Santa Muerte who serve to fill those gaps.

Jesus Malverde Community Altar Service starts tonight

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Have a vigil light set and worked on my Jesus Malverde altar in community altar work servicebeginning on Monday, May 3rd,which serves as the feast day ofthis folk saint.There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”

Jesus Malverde, also known as the Angel of the Poor or the Generous Bandit, is afolk saint who is said to have lived and died inlate 19th/early 20th century Sinaloa, Mexico. His reputation as a sort of Robin Hood figure began before his death, as the legend has it; he targeted the rich, redistributed the money and goods he stole to the poor, and basically spent his life on the wrong side of the law but by all accounts on the right side of morality.

While many details of…

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When Angels Are Saints and Saints Are Angels

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I very frequently see folks online say things like this: “Though technically speaking Archangel Michael is not a Saint [sic], sometimes this entity is venerated as one.”

I’m not linking to the source for that because my goal is not to single anyone out for being wrong. Thing is, this is not an uncommon misperception. It’s pretty easy to find multiple websites and blogs that say something to this effect – even those of folks who are otherwise pretty well-versed in folk religion and/or folk magic. If this were just a couple of blogs and not a pretty widespread point of confusion and error, I wouldn’t be going to the trouble to write about it.

I get that not everybody comes from a Catholic background. But if you’re going to write about saints in the context of hoodoo and folk religion, you should do your research before you make assertions…

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Why Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde Are Not Just “Narco Saints”

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I can’t count the number of references I’ve seen over the past 15 or so years to Santa Muerte being a “narco saint,” with the implication (or even the straight-up assertion) that she’s a saint for drug dealers, boom, like that’s the whole picture. This kind of statement is incredibly reductionist and oversimplified. It ignores nuance, never mind facts, and it betrays a lack of respect for the (sub)culture(s) from which she springs and a total lack of concern for understanding folk religion – in Mexico or in general.

Seriously, it’s insulting and dismissive even if you *are* a drug dealer. It would be reductionist even if it were true that only those associated with the drug trade in Mexico venerate this folk saint. That it’s not even true just makes all that rhetoric exhausting (and those who uncritically repeat it lazy).

Even though this interview in Vice is called…

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