Brett Hendrickson, a Religious Studies scholar at Lafayette University, wrote the following piece for the blog Religion in the American West on the folk saint “El Tiradito” and his shrine in Tucson, Arizona. Hendrickson has studied and written about curanderismo and folk saints in depth. His book, Border Medicine: A Transcultural History of Mexican American Curanderismo, (link) is coming out at the end of 2014 from New York University Press. I met him at the University of New Mexico’s annual “Traditional Healing Without Borders” class two summers ago, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Last fall we participated in a panel on Religion and Healing in the Borderlands at the 2013 Western Historical Conference and we continue to share ideas and information about curanderismo in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Brett agreed to let me share this piece, originally posted on the Religion in the American West blog he regularly contributes to.
May 30, 2014
Tucson’s Shrine to “El Tiradito”
by Brett Hendrickson
On both sides of the international border with Mexico, devotions to so-called folk saints flourish. Some of the major figures include Jesús Malverde, the Niño Fidencio, and—of late (pun intended)—Santa Muerte. Often unorthodox, these figures once operated on the institutional edges of Catholicism, but nowadays, they often extend their power and care over devotees with multiple religious backgrounds and histories. Unlikely ever to gain official canonization, borderlands folk saints nevertheless remain the focus of a great deal of material religious activity. Continue reading