The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Friday, February 15, 2008

Difunta Correa


Add this to the religious freak show pile...

From this site:

Until very recently, Roman Catholicism was Argentina’s official faith, and it still permeates daily life. When the shepherd fails the flock, though, the people seek help from popular saints like the Difunta Correa—whose shrine draws upward of 100,000 Semana Santa pilgrims to the desert hamlet of Vallecito, about 60 kilometers east of San Juan. More than just a religious experience, it’s an economic force, and even nonbelievers will find plenty to contemplate in the mixture of the sacred and the profane.

According to legend, María Antonia Deolinda Correa died of thirst in the desert while following her conscript husband—a small land-owner—during the mid-19th-century civil wars. When passing muleteers found her body, though, her baby son was still alive, feeding at her breast. While it seems far-fetched that any infant could survive on milk from a lifeless body, the legend had such resonance among local folk that the waterless site became a spontaneous shrine. The Difunta (“Defunct,” as dead people are known in the countryside) became a popular “saint,” despite limited proof that she even existed.

In the 150-plus years since the Difunta first colonized the consciousness of poor sanjuaninos and other Argentines, millions have come to regard her as a miracle worker. She is not a saint, though, and at best the official church regards belief in her as superstition; at worst, it has denounced her as contrary to its dogma, and has even installed its own priest and built its own church to combat the heresy...

Writing in the 19th century, Domingo F. Sarmiento—himself a sanjuanino—expressed what the official church still privately believes about rural religious practices like the Difunta Correa:

Christianity exists . . . as a tradition which is perpetuated, but corrupted; colored by gross superstitions and unaided by instruction, rites, or convictions.

Believers, for their part, see no contradiction between their formal faith and their devotion to the Difunta. That devotion has spread throughout the republic, as shown in roadside shrines—some of them astonishingly elaborate—from the Bolivian border at La Quiaca to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. Their marker is the water-filled bottles left to slake her thirst, but there are also banknotes (from the hyper-inflationary past), low-value coins, and miscellaneous auto parts (truckers are among her most committed adherents).


Note: Not that I think this is true. Just interesting.

18 Comments:

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Huw said...

"Christianity exists . . . as a tradition which is perpetuated, but corrupted; colored by gross superstitions and unaided by instruction, rites, or convictions."

Interesting how many liberals or conservatives, Catholics or Protestants or Orthodox could say that about "those other folks" (no matter how 'other' is defined).

 
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At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not leave a response, however after looking
at through a lot of comments on "Difunta Correa". I actually do have 2
questions for you if you do not mind. Could it be simply me or do a few of these remarks come across as if they are written by brain dead individuals?
:-P And, if you are posting at other sites, I'd like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you post a list of every one of your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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