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Posted on Saturday, February 11 - 2006

" I am standing in a small religious shrine, not very far from the Mexican border. This building is about 20 square feet on a side. There are windows and doors but most of the space is empty, aside from a few chairs, and a rough black metal altar table on the left hand side where a prodigi..."

Don Pedrito Jaramillo

I am standing in a small religious shrine, not very far from the Mexican border. This building is about 20 square feet on a side. There are windows and doors but most of the space is empty, aside from a few chairs, and a rough black metal altar table on the left hand side where a prodigious amount of incense has been burned and a lot of something has left a lot of ashes.There is a vent in the ceiling above this altar. To the left of the door is a grave, covered in hundreds of fresh flowers and as many tall candles in glass tubes. This could be a shrine from a medieval parish in old Europe, but I am in rural Texas.The grave and shrine are dedicated to Don Pedrito, or PedroJaramillio, a Mexican faith healer born in Jalisco, Mexico in 1829.

He migrated to Los Almos, Texas about 1881. He claimed to have powers which came to him directly from God to heal the sick. In the Mexican-American community here in Texas he gained great fame, and people came from all around the area to consult him and ask for prayers and healings. He charged no money, but he accepted whatever offerings and gifts people chose to give him. Whatever he did not need on a given day he simply gave away to the poor. He prayed over people, laid hands on them, and gave blessings. Until his death in 1907, hundreds of people claimed to have been healed by him. Don Pedrito was a colorful character. He came to the United States after his mother had been taken ill. He appealed to God to save her, and warned the Almighty that he would leave the sacred lands ofMexico if God refused his prayer. Pedrito's mother died and he marched off to the United States. He apparently knew a lot about the Texas frontier because he carried a lot of illegal whiskey across the border in his youth. But when he fell from a horse and badly injured his nose, he found wonderful healing in prayer. After a vision, he claimed God had sent him to heal others. He spent the rest of his life attempting to heal people. Don Pedrito was what is known as a curandero, or a person who has supernatural abilities to heal people. Even today they are not unknown in Mexico, Central and South America, and in some Spanish-language parts of the United States. They are becoming more common in the U.S. Remember that the U.S. is the fifth-largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, and the Mexican American community is the fastest-growing minority in then......


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