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March 31, 2022

Couple at the San Juan de los Lagos Fair in Mexico, 1940

Here’s a strange vintage photograph from the San Juan de los Lagos fair in Mexico, 1940. A woman with a crown of thorns and a bandaged face, is accompanied by a man who guides her and holds her by the arm, also a nopal with its thorns nailed on her chest. In her right hand, you can see a plate giving the impression that it is to collect the blood that drains during her flagellation. Faith and religious syncretism, a mixture of Catholicism and sacrifice.

People walk miles to reach San Juan de Los Lagos; it’s called a penitencia or manda to the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos. Some take it to the extreme like walking on your knees from where the town starts all the way to the church, going dressed as the virgin of San Juan walking days from your town to San Juan de Los Lagos, doing it fasted etc.

One day per year during certain religious festivities (Usually Virgin’s days, October 12 in Guadalajara or December 12 in Mexico City), people punish themselves to ask for forgiveness or in some cases they ask for a miracle (asking to be healed, to get pregnant, to get good grades, etc...).


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