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El Nino Fidencio

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Click HERE to read more about El Niño in Curandero: A Life in Mexican Folk Healing, by Eliseo Torres & Timothy Sawyer



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El Niño Fidencio was born in 1898, in the town of Guanahuato, and came to the town of Espinazo in 1925. He is remembered as a childlike, happy man. Indeed, for the hoards of sick and injured people who came to see him, he often prescribed laughter, food, and merriment. When anyone gave him gifts -- and the President of Mexico seemed to, with great frequency -- El Niño used the occasion to share, thus lightening the otherwise gloomy existence of many of the pilgrims. There are stories that say that El Niño Fidencio hired musicians so that everyone -- even arthritics and cripples -- might dance; and everyone, it is said, did just that.

Humorous accounts exist of some of El Niño's cures. For instance, he is said to have cured a mute by making him stand in front of a swing. El Niño rocked in the swing and bumped into the man repeatedly. The man grew so furious that he found the voice that had eluded him for several years. Similarly, El Niño is said to have tricked a paralytic into standing by tossing sweets just out of her range; she eventually stood up to catch them before she even realized what she was doing.

Other, more serious cures that he effected during his life were seemingly miraculous enough to inspire 30,000 of more modern visitors to trek to Espinazo twice a year (in March and in October, the anniversaries of his birth and death) to pay homage to this famous curandero. Those who are his followers -- the fidencistas who dress in white shirts and red kerchiefs in homage to their folk hero -- are said to assume his very spirit. They are called "boxes," or cajitas, and are thought, for the duration of their trances, actually to become El Niño. While they are in their trances, these cajitas also believed to assume El Niño's miraculous healing powers.

During his lifetime, El Niño saw and treated thousands upon thousands of people who came to see him for a wide range of ailments. Some say that overwork was the cause of his death, at the age of forty, in 1938; and indeed, he slept only three hours per night, since he was so busy helping those who made the special journey just to see him. Others say that he was murdered while he slept. Exact details of the life and death of El Niño are hard to come by, and some have been altered by the human tendency to mythify already legendary lives -- for example, folk legend has it that El Niño, like Christ, died at the age of 33, rather than 40.


Most of this information is adapted from The Folk Healer: The Mexican-American Tradition of Curanderismo, by Eliseo Torres, Nieves Press.

This page was last updated on December 10, 2004