Friday, March 28, 2008

El Tiradito Shrine

Last summer, I went on an evening walking tour of Barrio Viejo near downtown Tucson. The tour started at the El Tiradito ("little outcast") Shrine. Unlike most shrines, which are dedicated to saints, this shrine is dedicated to a sinner. The story varies a bit, depending on who is telling it, but the basic tale, dating to the 1870's, tells of a young shepherd who fell in love with his mother-in-law and was subsequently murdered by her husband. Because the shepherd had indulged in one of the seven deadly sins, he could not be buried in a traditional cemetery. Instead, he was buried where he was killed, and the shrine was built at that site, apparently the only shrine in the United States built on unconsecrated ground. 

As you can see from the photo, the shrine consists of the adobe wall of a ruined building, in front of which is a rack for candles. Large glass-encased candles are lit and left burning at the shrine. Small slips of  paper containing prayers and other religious objects are stuffed into the cracks of the old wall. 

Legend has it that if you light a candle and make a wish, your wish will come true - provided that the candle is still alight the next morning. Longtime residents tell of mothers creeping out in the middle of the night to blow out the candles lit by their daughters, when their daughters have wished for love and union with someone their mothers deem unsuitable. 


chiefbiscuit said...

I'm so happy to see you are back posting your wonderful photos and writing(s) again! Yay!!!

Rain said...

I wrote about El Tiradito and the Barrio last year when I was in Tucson and have a photo of another shrine nearby which I don't know anything about other than the photos. Are you familiar with its history?