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One of the causes of the Reformation was that every town, especially in Spain, wanted to have its own Virgin and saint, at the expense of the central cult of the Trinity. In Spain yesterday, the Deportivo soccer team of La Coruña, wildly celebrating a victory, marched to the shrine of the town's patron, the Virgen del Rosario, to give thanks.
In Mexico there was more piety in the rejoicing. Seventy thousand Mexicans went to Rome for the papal Mexico day, Mexico being the only country so honored. They went to witness the beatification of twenty-seven Mexican saints. Hitherto there had been only one Mexican saint, San Felipe de Jesús, who was crucified in Japan in 1597 and beatified in 1627. Now Mexico would have more saints than all the rest of Latin America put together. Twenty-five were victims in the Cristeros war. They came from different cities in north-central Mexico (most from Guadalajara and Durango), so now many cities would have their own saint, with his own shrine. Their photographs were paraded around. Anyone one who questioned the legend of Juan Diego was denounced as a traitor.
The Church claimed that this was simply putting an end to a conflict which had divided Mexico. Actually, it was an attempt to rewrite Mexican history, the official version of which has been largely written from an anti-clerical viewpoint. The eucharistic congress ended its procession at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, not far from the statue of Benito Juárez, the prototype of Mexican anti-clericalism. The Catholic Church is marching in Mexico.
Ronald Hilton - 5/20/00