Monday, May 13, 2013

Bogotá's Other Saints

A man asks favors of the four Bodmer girls, daughters of a Swiss-German immigrant family who died in childhood around 1900.
Yesterday in Rome Pope Francis created the first-ever official Colombian saint, Madre Laura. 

But Bogotá has long had its popular saints, who may not be endorsed by any church, but receive a parade of faithful every day in the Central Cemetery. They're a funny mix, including an astronomer, a prostitute, a Jewish-German immigrant and a guerrilla leader turned politician.

Believers leave the Bodmer girls flowers, candies and toys. 
Visitors ask favors in the ear of Bavaria Beer Company founder Siegfried Kopp, a Jewish-German immigrant. 

Tiles carrying messages of thanks cover the tomb of M-19 guerrilla leader and presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro. 
The tomb of union leader Jose Mercado, who was kidnapped and murdered by the M-19 guerrillas attracts many believers, who leave flowers and wishes. 
The tomb of astronomer Julio Garavito, who is on the 20,000 peso bill, attracts people who hope that Garavito can help them multiply their money. 
Colorful melted candle wax at the base of Julio Garavito's tomb.
Beside Garavito lies Salome, the patron saint of prostitutes and sexual minorities. According to tradition the woman buried here was removed because Garavito's family objected to him being beside a prostitute. 

A man asks a favor of the 'Fallen Jesus' statute at the Central Cemetery's entrance. But the person buried here is said to be only a rich Colombian kid who drowned in Germany. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Vocabat said...

How many times did you have to go to the cemetery over the years to pick up all this local lore? Impressive. Are people still buried here? Are many people cremated now? Or are most still buried/interred?

Do you mind if I use one of your pictures on my personal blog if I link to your site and give you credit?

Miguel said...

Hi Vocabat,

Thanks for your comment. I've been to the cemetery so many times and talked to so many people there that I often explain the traditions to Colombian visitors.

Burial and cremation both still go on. Many people are buried for a few years and then reburied or cremated.

You're welcome to use a photo on your blog as long as you credit it and include a link. Thanks for asking.