Photo of 1997 infant murder scene in Santa Ana, Calif. The crime scene was a converted garage in which the "high priest" conducted occult rituals to a mixture of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican "saints" and deities. The picture depicts one of the main altars with the Mexican drug cartel saint "Santa Muerte" (Holy Angel of Death).
A Prayer to Jesus Malverde
Today before your cross prostrate,
Oh, Malverde my Lord,
I beg your mercy to relieve my pain.
You who dwell in glory,
And you who are so close to God,
Listen to the suffering of this humble fisherman.
Oh, miraculous Malverde,
Oh, Malverde my Lord,
Concede this favor and fill my sprit with joy.
Give me health Lord,
Give me rest,
Give me wellbeing,
And so let it be.
In the second part of this blog, we continue our look at how the Mexican underworld has appropriated and perverted the iconography of Mexican culture and the Catholic faith.
Unorthodox Folk Saints
San Juan Soldado (Saint John the Soldier) was a real person, Juan Castillo Morales, a soldier in the Mexican Army. In 1938, he was convicted for the rape and murder of a young girl in Tijuana. Believers claim that he was an innocent man.
In a strange custom called "La Le Fuga" (the Law of Flight), Juan Soldado was sentenced to face a military firing squad, but he was allowed to run. If he could reach the distance of a thousand meters or so without being killed, he was a free man. Juan was shot running through a cemetery toward the U.S. border.
Later, blood mysteriously began to appear in the spot where Juan was shot. This was witnessed by numerous people. He is now invoked as the unofficial "saint" of illegal aliens, fugitives, and for people seeking safe passage.
"Brother" San Simon was a drunkard and a gambler from Guatemala. He is depicted as a mustached man dressed in a black suit and hat sitting in a chair. Sometimes he holds a staff or cane, smokes a cigar and has coins in his hand. In Guatemala, he is slightly more colorfully dressed and is often crudely carved from wood. He represents a man of the 20th century enjoying worldly things. He is the patron of drunkards and gamblers.
The image of Jesus Malverde comes from the city of Culican Sinaloa, Mexico. There are two different folk stories explaining Jesus Malverde. The first version of the tale is that he was a bandit who was caught by the Federales (Mexican Federal Police). Without a trial he was hung from a tree, cursed, and left to be eaten by vultures.
A poor peon rancher happened to pass the rotting corpse he recognized as Juan Malverde. The poor rancher was looking for his only cow which had wandered away. He invoked the intervention of the bandit promising to give him a proper burial if he would help him recover his prized possession. The cow returned and the poor rancher buried Malverde as he promised, building a small shrine over his grave.
Another folk tale is that bounty hunters shot the "Robin Hood" like bandit. Jesus had been nicknamed Malverde because he had employed the tactic of dressing in green camouflage clothing and hiding in the brush to surprise his victims. Mal in Spanish can be translated bad and verde means green. Though mortally wounded he escaped the bounty hunters and returned to his rancho. He pleaded with his friends to turn in his dead body and split up the reward with the other villagers. This is what they did.