Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Patron Saint of Kidnap Victims

Many go to the Captured Infant, or Santo NiƱo Cautivo, a statue of the infant Jesus in Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral, which has become the unofficial patron of kidnap victims.

The Captured Infant is one of several saints and religious symbols that Mexicans have adopted in recent decades for help with the kinds of tribulations they face in the 21st century. They include Juan the Soldier of Tijuana, whose spirit is believed to protect migrants who cross illegally into the United States, and Jesus Malverde of Sinaloa, who some say is the saint of drug traffickers.

"People want saints and symbols that reflect their environment. And kidnappings and drug traffickers are part of the modern Mexico," said Carlos Garma, an anthropologist at Mexico's Autonomous University. "But the principle is the same as the old saints. People go to them for help."

The Captured Infant is believed to be of special help to kidnap victims because it was once kidnapped itself.

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