El Nino Fidencio The Mythical Curandero
Throughout the book Curanderismo: Mexican American Folk Healing Trorrer and Chavira make mention of el Niño Fidencio in countless areas of the book. It is mentioned that one of the most important spiritualist movement is based on “the life teaching, and the spirit of a famous young folk healer (now dead) from northern Mexico el Niño Fidencio” (1997:35). Even today el Niño is an important figure in many aspects of the belief system and practice associated with the Curanderismo folk healing. History plays a major role in culture when it comes to establishing religion and medical practices, which in the case of the Mexican Curanderos many times martyrs or perhaps people with supernatural or mythical abilities lay the foundation for the belief system and its practice. Consequently, this allows such people (those with supernatural abilities) to become saints thus becoming an important part of the Catholic faith, which has become syncratic with the traditional folk healing system. What is interesting about el Niño and his legacy, is that he not only serves as an influential figure in the history of Curanderismo but also plays a large role in the spiritual practices and the contemporary culture associated with the Mexican folk healing practices. In a modern society where immigration has promoted syncretism and a separation between those who still live in or near Mexico and those who have moved to other regions causing them to lose many of their traditional beliefs and practices el Niño serves as an icon from the folk saint movement that helps draw a culture and the people back together.
One of the things the turned Fidencio into a saint and a man of great power was the vision or hallucination that he had of a bearded man with a halo who came to him under a tree when he was a young man right after he had been run off by the family with which he had been living with this is what he says he was told in his hallucination. Fidencio, you are called to a very high destiny. I put in your eyes a marvelous curative power, which will serve to alleviate the suffering of those with pain. I give you this divine power only for the good of humanity, only in order to that you will cure those who are deserving, never for you to enrich yourself with it, not to benefit those who do not deserve such good things (1973:91)
What caused Fidencio to become so well received was not only the fact that he had a gift but the way in which he came to understand develop and use his gift for healing. Many saints receive divine intervention, which leads them on a particular path. When taking on such a role as Fidencio did he made the decision to leave the secular world behind to enter into a practice, which is often ill-defined and perceived based upon the fact that it involved dabbling in the supernatural and the lines between good and evil are thin. “The curandero is considered different from ordinary people, and this difference produces respect, distrust, and even fear. Sometimes it produces the accusation that the curandero is a brujo, a witch, doing antisocial magic so not everyone feels drawn to this profession” (1997: 110). However, Fidencio was not perceived in such a way; he was known to give, and share with the people. Thus using his gifts as instructed by what many refer to as “the heavenly father”, for good striving to benefit those around him as he was told to do. It is said that, “Fidencio accepted his mission and devoted the remainder of his life to curing. But from time to time intense fatigue would weaken his resolve. On these instances he would weep and say that he has been ordered to cure and had no choice but to do so” (1973:91). In doing so he inspired others and created a legacy that would be remembered and celebrated long after his death. The “fidencistas” (Fidencios followers) have built a number of temples (called centros) in Mexico as well as in the United States where Mexican immigration are...
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