St. Jerome Biblical Scholar and Translator 347-420 AD
Saint Jerome, or “San Jeronimo” as he’s known in Latin America was Priest and scholar in 4th century. Though he was raised secular, he was known to have great visions of hell and eternal suffering, and finally converted as a young man after a powerful vision he had while he was terribly ill.
Fluent in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, he is widely credited for his translations of the Latin Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew. He is admired in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists who preached abstinence from worldly temptations and perpetual virginity.
In modern day Masaya, Nicaragua his strict abstinence, and devotion to biblical study is celebrated each fall with the three month long Fiesta de San Jeronimo, in which devout followers drink large quantities of alcohol, shoot fireworks, and dance in the streets dressed as drag queens and little devils. (Note…please be patient if your hammock order is delayed during these months)
Day of the Dead October 31-November 2nd
Early November in Mexico is a convenient time for those craving candy skulls. Not based on a single saint, and not entirely Catholic, Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration is quite possibly the most unique spiritual holiday in the world.
Reflecting a mixture of two thousand year old Aztec and indigenous tradition and Catholicism’s All Saints Day, the modern “Dia de los Muertos” sees millions of Mexican families paying homage to their dead relatives. In their homes, families build altars complete with crosses, statues of the Virgin Mary, pictures of the deceased and life-size candy skulls. Then they travel in masses to the cemetery, bringing with them offerings full of the food, drinks, clothes, pictures, memorabilia, and even toys that were enjoyed by the relative during their life.
The celebration is thought to encourage the souls of the departed to return for a brief time to be united once again with their loved ones. As a result, many families choose to spend the night beside the gravesite, bringing blankets and pillows to keep the soul warm and comfortable. Many people also dress up as the dead, wearing shell necklaces as they dance to wake them up. Others pass the night reading poems or humorous anecdotes to remember them by.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Mexican Image of the Virgin Mary 1531-Today
Of all the statues, figurines, and stickers adorning buses and dashboards in Mexico, no image is more popular than that of Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to Catholic history, the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant in the countryside outside of Mexico City in 1531, and the image of her apparition—Our Lady of Guadalupe—has been honored ever since.
According to the peasant, Juan Diego, the 15 year old Virgin Mary appeared to him one morning and spoke to him in his native tongue of Nahuatl, instructing him to build a church there in her honor. When he questioned her for proof that she was the Virgin Mary, she reportedly told him to gather flowers from a nearby hill. Despite it being winter, he listened, and, miraculously, he found countless flowers. When he later brought these flowers to a nearby priest, the virgin’s image was imprinted on the cloak in which he’d carried them.
The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe lives on as a symbol of Catholic Mexicans. Latin American and Mexican revolutionaries throughout history have dedicated their victories and invoked protection from Our Lady of Guadalupe, from Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla in the Mexican War of Independence, to Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution a century later, to the great Simon Bolivar in his various revolutions throughout South America. When Felix Fernandez became the first President of Mexico, he even changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria, in honor of the saint who helped his nation win their independence.
The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, housed in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico, is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world, once receiving as many as six million visitors in a single weekend.