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One Virgin and Many Saints
Commenting on Mexico's plethora of saints, Linda Nyquist says:
"What I notice even more in Mexico than devotion to assorted saints is the devotion to the various Virgins. Obviously, Guadalupe is the best-known outside of Mexico, but there are so many others that attract great attraction, such as the Virgen de los Remedios, the Virgen de San Juan de los Lagos (especially popular with Mexican-Americans), the Virgen de Zapopan, Virgen de la Soledad -- the list goes on and on. WAISers might be interested in a book called Mexico: Land of Mary's Wonders. It identifies many of these Virgens, and which shrines now have Basilica status. It is commonly thought that the Basilica of Guadalupe is the only Basilica in Mexico, but there are a number of others. Another worthwhile book is Ingrahams Mary, Michael and Lucifer: Folk Catholicism in Mexico. Writers, such as Juan Rulfo, have drawn attention to others, such as the Virgen de Talpa.
I have often wondered if the average Catholic in Mexico, and Latin America, truly understands that all of these virgins are different aspects of the same person, rather than separate individuals. Experience suggests to me that it is the latter."
My comment: As usual, Linda is correct. I recall a conversation I had with a Guatemalan, who was talking about its shrine to the Virgin. I referred to the Virgin of Copan just across the border in Honduras. He retorted "That's a different Virgin." I replied "It's the same Virgin, just a different statue." I could not get him to see the point.
I was puzzled by Linda's reference to the Virgin de los Remedios. Was she referring to the one near Mexico City, which was brought over by Cortés and was the devotional center of the Spaniards? After independence it lost its popularity to the Virgin of Guadalupe. I thought it was forgotten. Some years ago, I failed to find it, and no one could tell me where it was. Linda explains:
"Yes, Remedios is the Spanish shrine, and. in spite of its connection with the hated/dreaded Spaniards, seems to have adequate devotees. It is quite a peaceful place with pretty gardens and church. But now that I think about it, the visitors there do appear to be more middle-class economically than at the nearby Guadalupe shrine.
I love visiting these places for their beauty. Have you seen the Church of the Encarnación which is behind the National Preparatory School in downtown Mexico City?. It is marvellous. And the Church of Santa Maria Tonanzintla outside Cholula is my favorite in the world."
My reply: Yes, I know Santa Maria Tonanzintla near Cholula. It is near the University of the Americas, with which I have close ties.
Ronald Hilton - 5/15/00