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Patronato Pro Niño’s Walking Tour

By Stanley Klein

Did you know that many of the saints in our churches in San Miguel have very interesting stories?

Why is Saint Patrick, a well-known Irish saint, standing in such a prominent place in our Parroquia Church? The answer dates back to the Mexican American war of 1846 to 1848, a war that America said the Mexicans started—fake news!

Relations between the United States and Ireland were poor. Because of the famous Potato Famine in Ireland, hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants were pouring into the States. There was an enormous amount of resentment to this unchecked influx of immigrants along with the usual fear of newcomers taking our jobs and working for less pay. These feelings were even evident in American newspapers where many classified employment ads began with the letters “INNA,” Irish Need Not Apply.

In a gesture to improve relations, the Irish government sent over a brigade of Irish soldiers to fight on the side of the American army. However, American soldiers treated them poorly as they did not want to see them as allies. The Irish soldiers were a proud lot and did not appreciate this obviously rude and unwelcome behavior; they switched over to fight on the side of the Mexicans.

The Mexicans welcomed them with open arms and looked at this as a sign that they would certainly win this war. Unfortunately, as we know, they did not win the war. In fact, they lost a large portion of Mexico, including California, Texas, Oklahoma, and two other states. However, the Mexicans never lost their fondness for the Irish and still look with great affection on St. Patrick. Therefore, his statue stands in a place of prominence to this day. Interestingly, St. Patrick’s statue is one of the most regularly decorated, with milagros and photos of loved ones. Milagro means miracle. The practice of putting milagros on one’s favorite saint is one of the many rituals that make Mexican churches especially interesting. These little charms, which look much like the charms on a charm bracelet (remember those?) are in every conceivable form—parts of the body, farm animals, fruits, vegetables, and others.

If a loved one breaks a limb you buy an arm or leg milagro, pin it on your favorite saint, and pray for a swift healing. If your corn crop is not thriving, buy a milagro in the shape of an ear of corn.

Therefore, the very popular statue of Saint Patrick, or San Patricio as he is called here, is always covered with milagros. It is also interesting to note that since NAFTA, when more Mexican men started to go to the US to work and send money home regularly, photos, specifically head shots, have appeared pinned to many Statues. They are accompanied by prayers hoping to hear from these loved ones—an indication that perhaps the loved one, usually a son or spouse, has stopped sending money.

Join our Patronatos Pro Niños walking tours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:45am in front of the Parroquia Church in the Jardin. The tour is 2-1/2 hours and costs 300 pesos.

 

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