Patron Saint Of Immigrants Visits U.S.

Well, a reasonable facsimile of him made the trek
BY: NEIL DOWN

A statue of Santo Toribio Romo Gonzalez, the saint many believe watches over immigrants, is touring Los Angeles this week.

This is a statue of the 28 year old priest who was martyred in the Mexican religious turmoil of 1928According to the Los Angeles Times, the four foot tall statue was flown in from Jalisco, a state on the mainland, to Los Angeles for the first time ever last weekend.

“It cost the price of two first-class tickets to get him here, but we did it,” Rosa Gonzalez, who was in charge of transporting the statue, said. “Now here he is, bringing blessings to everyone.”

The statue will visit churches in three different counties. Those who come to see the wooden statue tell him their prayers such as “My mother needs a visa,” or “I can’t go on being illegal.”

“Now the handy saint is able to come to see all the faithful who can’t travel back to Jalisco to see him,” Martin Rizo Soto, a priest who travels with the statue to protect it, said. Illegal Mexicans can’t leave the United States because they can’t get back in at a later date like they used to.

Santo Toribio was from Santa Ana de Guadalupe in Mexico and is especially revered by Mexicans. The priest was killed by army soldiers in a religious conflict in 1928, making him a martyr at the age of 28.  He was canonized 14 years ago.

Some believe the saint appears to people crossing the border donning a cowboy hat and cowboy boots wherever they are suffering, be it in a migrant shelter or the desert. Believers of the miracle say the saint gives the struggling crosser water, food and money before helping them enter the United States. If the trip is too dangerous, Santo Toribio tells them to go back home.

“I owe him everything,” Jose Ochoa, who saw the statue at Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church in Lake Forest, California said. “I couldn’t imagine dying without coming to see him to say thank you.  Have faith in him. He will take care of you.”

The saint’s hometown, where his bones lay is also a popular place for immigrants. Many businesses are named after the saint, such as Santo Toribio Ice Cream and Santo Toribio Gift Shop.

“He’s given many families in town a way to make a living and not have to go north,” Rizo Soto said.

However, the Catholic Church does not recognize Santo Toribio as the patron of immigrants.