Argentina is a predominantly Catholic country, so much so that it’s enshrined in the Constitution. Some people like to show their devotion by making small shrines on the side of the roads or at intersections.
Many years ago, a lady who used to live on the same block as my parents decided –for reasons only known to herself- to put up a shrine to the Virgin Mary at one end of the street. This lady raised a subscription among the neighbours and had a brick and mortar shrine erected, holding a small statue of Mary.
Every now and then, I see someone praying or crossing themselves when walking by. And there are almost always fresh flowers. I’ve never talked to anyone about this but I think people feel protected by Our Lady.
On the other hand, there are many shrines dedicated to other folk saints like Difunta Correa or Gauchito Gil, who, however, are not officially recognized as such by the Catholic Church. Some people believe they can work miracles so they go to them for help. I guess that when people are going through a hard time, they take all the comfort the can get.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
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7 comments for “Argentinean customs: roadside shrines”
The more you travel to the north or outside the big cities like Bs As, Rosario, Cba. (sorry, Cba, Rosario – to name them in order of importance hehe) and into the “interior” of the country, the more of these shrines you see.
If you go to the Northwest for example, around 1st November, you’ll see along the roads crosses decorated with flower garlands and “gifts” left for the dead, very much in the style of “Día de los Muertos” in México.
This reminds me of the temporary street altars called “estasyon” or “estacion” which are set up during Semana Santa in my hometown in the Philippines. They are meant to represent the various Stations of the Cross and are “stop-overs” during the daytime procession.
In Argentina we have those too, either temporary or sometimes permanent near a church in the countryside or marking the stations up a hill.
The shrines to the Difunta Correa I think are the strangest kind of all. You will normally see a figure of the “Difunta” (a woman who died in the desert while she was trying to catch up with the army where her husband was fighting) and a pile of bottles with water around it. I’ve known her story for ever but I still find it so very strange!
It’s amazing how these shrines seem to give spiritual directions as well to the passers-by!
I can just picture that in my mind’s eye, DeeBee! 🙂
Almost as beautiful as the Polish