The Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan.

The Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan.

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Mexico by Spanish missionaries in 1623. The statue was responsible for causing a miracle, and devotion to La Virgin de San Juan spread. The statue was taken to Texas in the 1940s after a woman claimed to have seen an image of the Virgin in the countryside around San Juan. The statue is pres- ently housed in a beautiful new church, and pilgrims arrive daily to ask for HEALING and other favors. Countless letters are displayed attesting to the HEALING powers of this statue, and crutches and other artifacts are left at the church to attest to the miracles that happened there (Informational brochure, 1999).

The Shrine of St. Peregrine for cancer sufferers (Figure 6–8) is located in the Old Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. This statue is housed in a small grotto in the shrine. St. Peregrine was born in Italy in 1265 and died in 1345. He was believed to have miraculous powers against sick- ness and could cure cancer. This won for him the title “official patron for cancer victims.” Once a woman was afflicted with cancer and a lady gave her a prayer to St. Peregrine. The woman prayed for 6 months, and her cancer was arrested. In gratitude for this, the woman had a statue of the saint placed in the mission. Today, the belief in this saint has spread, and countless documents attesting to his healing powers are on display in the mission.

Chimayo, New Mexico, is the home of the Shrine of our Lord of Esquipulas. The shrine was built between 1814 and 1816 and is visited by thousands of people each year. The shrine has been called the “Lourdes of America,” and countless healings have been reported in this location (Figure 6–9). There is a hole in the shrine, and it is believed that eating the mud from this hole will cure many illnesses. The mud may also be mixed with water and rubbed on the body (Informational brochure, n.d.).

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows (Figure 6–10) is located in Belleville, Illinois. It is a site that provides an atmosphere where people of all faiths have the opportunity to pray for HEALING and hope. There are numerous locations where petitions may be placed.

Other Shrines

The following are examples of sacred shrines located in Europe: Three of the most revered and known shrines worldwide are located in

France, Spain, and Portugal. Lourdes, in France, is believed to be a site where the Virgin Mary visited Bernadette Soubirous. In 1858, she observed a vision of St. Mary in a grotto. The Virgin was reported to have visited her several times. There have been 67 accepted miracle cures at this site, and countless— over 5 million a year—pilgrims go there (Lourdes, 2008).

Another famous shrine is found on a high and jiggered (saw-toothed) moun- tain near Barcelona, Spain. It is the Shrine of our Lady of Montserrat. Pilgrims have visited this site since the 13th century to venerate the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna, and many miracles have been reported here (Montserrat Shrine, 2008).

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One example of a present day petition is the following: “Enagradecimiento por devolver la vida a neustro sobrino, I. G. R. 14-9-01”; this translates to “Praise (or exaltation) for returning the life of our nephew.” This brief note was found at the shrine. The immediate image was that of a couple making the difficult pilgrimage to Montserrat and placing this petition there. Note that the date is September 14, 2001—3 days after the attacks on the United States. Could it be that this person, the nephew, survived the attack on either the Pentagon or the World Trade Center? Could it be that the family sought and found a way to express their gratitude? The journey to Montserrat is difficult; the image this note evoked was one of sacrifice and homage.

Fatima is located in a small village in central Portugal, a short distance from Lisbon. It is a site of a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1917, 3 peasant children reported a vision of a woman who identified herself as the “Lady of the Rosary.” The first national pilgrimage to the site occurred in 1927. Many miraculous cures have been reported at this site (Fatima, 2006).

Figure 6–8 The Shrine of St. Peregrine for cancer sufferers.

Figure 6–9 Shrine of our Lord of Esquipulas.

Figure 6–10 The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

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One need only visit these remarkable places and bear witness to the display of faith that can be observed to begin to understand their important contribu- tions in the complex areas of HEALING and faith.

Many people will not be fortunate enough to actually participate in a pilgrimage. However, there are countless websites that bring information and images to you. One such site, El Nino Fidencio, The Curanderismo Research Project from the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, contains pertinent information about El Nino Fidencio. Fidencio Con- stantine, a folk curer, practiced in Nuevo Leon, Mexico from the early 1920s until his death in 1938, and is presently the central figure in a widespread cur- ing cult. Twice each year, on the anniversaries of his birth and death, Espinazo (a town of about 300 population) is inundated by 10,000 to 15,000 people from Mexico and the United States who make pilgrimages in hopes of a cure and/or help from the Niño (The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, 2006).

Believers combine elements of traditional Catholicism, Indian dances, herbology, and laying on of hands in effecting cures. It is believed that certain individuals receive the Niño’s power to heal. They are called Cajitas or Materias (women) and Cajones (men)—“receptacles” of the Niño’s power—and they cure in the name of Niño Fidencio and God. During the celebrations, they roam Espinazo curing all who wish a cure-blessing. There are several holy places in Espinazo where curing is conducted: Fidencio’s tomb, temple, and deathbed; 2 trees; a cemetery hill; the hill of the bell; and the “charco” or mudpond, where Fidencio conducted baptisms to cure his patients. The pilgrimage to Espinazo has increased in popularity over recent years and extensive studies have been conducted in Espinazo (Gardner, 1992).

Table 6–1 summarizes the beliefs of people from several religious back- grounds with respect to health/HEALTH, healing/HEALING, and several events related to health care delivery. Remember, this is a summary, and you are urged

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