El Dia De La Virgen Del Refugio
Es el dia cuatro de Julio, the fourth of July. This morning people from the neighboring towns of El Refugio, Queretaro, wake up before three a.m. to make the trek to pay homage to the Virgen del Refugio. La Fiesta Patria del Refugio has been going on for a week now.
Eight years ago today, my grandfather Manuel Hernandez, said goodbye to this world. Today, the altar is there for him, and my grandmother is once again wrapping up the novenario. The man leading the rosario would kneel in front of the Virgen holding his sombrero in one hand and the rosary in the other and begin to pray. Ave Maria Purismima....Padre Nuestro..Sin Pecado Consevida...Amen...
Today the novenario ends and I sit in a cubicle at my law school studying for the week I am about to encounter and I think about my abuelito. I think about how strong of a man he was. Then I think about how my parents are also getting older and how important family is. Irasali captured it perfectly when she talked about her grandmother.
My grandfather was a strong man. People came to him for advice and he never turned a hungry soul away, even if he too was hungry. I wrote this while I was still in Dallas:
This summer I visited the tiny Mexican pueblo of El Refugio where fences are made of stone, dirt roads are the only roads, and water is stored in wells, for my grandfather’s novenario. The nine day traditional Catholic tribute to the dead brought together old men and women, middle aged couples and the occasional child to my grandmother’s two-room adobe home. The day before my visit to El Refugio I had been sitting in a cushy chair in my air-conditioned downtown Dallas office. Now in El Refugio I stood next to the faithful while they prayed and I mouthed prayers I did not know. People paid their respects to a man who had done so much for them. He was not formally educated, but still represented neighbors when they had issues with local police, politicians, and municipalities; all of whom respected him. I have always been inspired by my grandfather’s story, leaving his young family to work in Mexico’s northern states and the United States as a bracero, but this day I was visiting his home wanting to take with me some of his courage, enthusiasm, and will to serve the people,...
Tonight the bells will toll. It's called El Doble. My grandmother, my mom, some tios, and other older people will be praying inside my abuelitas house and the church bells will toll letting El Refugio know that today we remember a great man. Some people will make the sign of the cross while they are walking to the corner store, cooking dinner, or sitting and chatting. The people inside my grandmother's house will get a chill down their spine and remember.
For more pictures go here.