The ‘Folk Saint,’ El Com­pañero Niño Fi­den­cio

The Taos News - - VECINOS -

It is a won­der­ful thing when the nat­u­ral or su­per­nat­u­ral world is sud­denly graced by the ar­rival of a spe­cial per­son­age or cir­cum­stance that bet­ters ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. It may be some­thing serendip­i­tous, such as a sud­den wel­come rain on parched and suf­fer­ing arid lands or the wel­come pres­ence of a great healer of the peo­ple.

One such healer was on the scene about a 100 years ago. He is known as El Niño Fi­den­cio, and his le­gacy con­tin­ues through­out the dis­ci­pline known as cu­ran­derismo.

El Niño Fi­den­cio was a fa­mous healer and cu­ran­dero in Mex­ico. His birth name was Jose de Jesús Con­stantino Sin­tora.

To­day he is revered by the Fi­dencista Chris­tian Church. He was a de­vout Chris­tian, and although the Catholic Church does not rec­og­nize his of­fi­cial sta­tus as a saint, he has a faith­ful fol­low­ing that ex­tends through the north­ern part of Mex­ico and the south­west­ern United States. He is rec­og­nized as a “folk saint.”

He was born in 1898 and died in the small vil­lage of Espinazo in the Mex­i­can prov­ince of Nuevo Leon in 1938. While in ele­men­tary school he met the priest Fa­ther Se­gura, and helped the priest with re­li­gious ser­vices.

Dur­ing this time Fi­den­cio learned to work with herbs and to cure peo­ple. At the age of 15, Fi­den­cio at­tended school in Mina, Nuevo Leon, a town close to Espinazo. He came to be called “el niño,” or “child,” be­cause he was smooth­skinned and had a soft voice.

In 1921, Fi­den­cio be­gan to per­form heal­ings in Espinazo, and his fame spread far and wide. He gained the at­ten­tion of the “high and the mighty” as well as the de­voted as word of his heal­ing abil­i­ties spread.

In 1928 the Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Plutarco Elias Calles vis­ited Espinazo and at­tended a heal­ing ses­sion with Niño Fi­den­cio. Although the pres­i­dent’s af­flic­tion was not known gen­er­ally among the pub­lic, it was later dis­closed that he suf­fered from nodu­lar lep­rosy. He was re­port­edly healed by El Niño Fi­den­cio.

Mul­ti­tudes of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from a great range of ill­nesses came to El Niño Fi­den­cio in tiny Espinazo for heal­ing. Fi­den­cio al­ways claimed that he was only a sim­ple and hum­ble in­stru­ment of di­vine power in the heal­ings, and it is re­ported that he never charged any pay­ment for the cures that he ac­com­plished.

Dur­ing his life, a mul­ti­tude of im­i­ta­tors and im­pos­tors ap­peared. The death of one of these im­posters was mis­taken for Fi­den­cio’s own death. The fal­si­fied death was an­nounced by the press, and his fu­neral prompted a mas­sive out­pour­ing of emo­tion.

His ac­tual death came a year later. Now, some 80 years later, he is still fa­mous in the town of Espinazo and plays a large part in the town’s econ­omy by gen­er­at­ing tourism and the sale of re­li­gious ob­jects and ser­vices.

His fol­low­ers con­tinue his heal­ing work. Many Fi­dencista heal­ers claim that they are “ca­ji­tas,” or “lit­tle boxes,” that chan­nel the heal­ing pow­ers of El Niño Fi­den­cio. Some peo­ple are healed, and some are not, by those claim­ing to heal by the in­vok­ing of El Niño Fi­den­cio. That is “an old story” when the gen­uine ar­ti­cle is often im­i­tated, but never du­pli­cated.

El Niño Fi­den­cio to this day is con­sid­ered to be a “saint of the peo­ple,” who con­tin­ues to be revered and rec­og­nized as such by ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the Ro­man Catholic Church. Might he be ‘of­fi­cially can­on­ized’ by the Church some­day?

Now, in this Novem­ber and au­tum­nal sea­son of all saints and all souls and the dearly de­parted of hon­ored mem­ory, El Niño Fi­den­cio the Healer and many other saints of our peo­ples come to mind, who are com­pan­ions of the Bless­ing Way.

David A. Fer­nán­dez de Taos

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