ROBIN ALYSHA CLEMENS
Mario Martínez is a young poet, student and Catholic. “To me, religion is not a chain or a cage, it is a source of wisdom just like science or art.” He was trained in western literature, reading well-known European authors, but also grew up listening to the traditional stories of miracles and witchcraft that are so common in Mexico. “The union between the cultures is my biggest passion and is also the foundation of my poetry. I want to learn more about the Africans, the Muslims and the Chinese because I feel that our cultures have a lot in common.”
Edgar is a priest in training at the seminary, a school of theology, in Mexico City. At the monthly San Judas Thaddeus celebration in the San Hipolito Church, Edgar blesses the people and their San Judas Thaddeus statues with holy water. San Judas Thaddeus is a patron saint among the lower-class and is very popular amongst criminals. Petitioning the saint to get away with their crimes, some have titled him "The Saint for the Hopeless and the Despaired”.
A Catholic man crawls on his knees in front of Basílica de Guadalupe, one of the most important religious sites of Mexico. Every year, millions of people come to the church to show their devotion to The Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s dark-skinned version of Virgin Mary. After the image of Guadalupe first appeared o an indigenous man on the hill of Tepeyac, the Spanish built the Guadalupe chapel right on top of the sacred indigenous site devoted to Aztec goddess Tonantzin Coatlaxopeuh, also seen as “The Sacred Mother”. Because of Guadalupe’s appearance at the sacred site of Tepeyac, many indigenous people recognize Tonantzin and Guadalupe as the same figure.
Don May is a Granisero who practises in his own personal cave. A Granisero is a spiritual healer and someone who can control the weather through offerings and chanting. This spiritual gift can be received in three different ways. One is by surviving a lethal disease, second is crying in your mother’s womb as an unborn baby and the third is by being struck by lightning and surviving it. Many of them, including Don May, are located on the foot of the Popocatépetl Volcano.
A group of young people gather every week in the church of the Nazarene in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Most people are in their 20s. The young pastor, Mauricio, is only 40 years old and does his sermon through a powerpoint presentation. “I teach in a new world and translate old theology to the younger generation.” There is a band playing music and the attendees read the bible from their smartphones. “There is not one Mexico. We are young people, born in a digital era, in a post-modern culture, but our roots are indigenous.”