By Emilie Vardaman
HAVANA TIMES – My adventure began when my friend Cinda sent me a small article she’d found online. It was about the Mexican folk saint Teresa Urrea, “The Saint of Caborca”.
Now, I happen to love Mexican folk saints. And I’d read about Santa Teresa in Luis Urrea’s famous book The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Luis is the great-nephew of the famous saint. I’m a big fan of Luis Urrea and have read a number of his books, but The Hummingbird’s Daughter is special to me.
Teresa’s story begins in the Mexican state of Sinaloa where she was born in 1873. It continues with the family’s move to Caborca, Sonora, and through her development there as a healer. The book ends when she has to flee for her life. The book is historical fiction but Teresa’s healing and miracles are well documented.
The article Cinda sent me said that Santa Teresa, often called Teresita, was buried in Clifton, Arizona, a few short hours north of where I live. She’d died of tuberculosis on January 11, 1906, only thirty-two years old.
As if it happened, my birthday was coming up in about six weeks. I’d hoped to find something special to do. When I reached 70 a few years back, I figured it’s pretty important to celebrate every year.
So what does one do to celebrate during the time of Covid?
Easy. Visit a grave. The grave of Santa Teresa Urrea.
I did a bit of research online and found a photo of the grave. It was covered with a concrete slab and surrounded by a small, decorative metal fence. The notes said the grave was unmarked, but with the photo saved on my iPad I hoped to find it.
So I booked a room at the Clifton Hotel. I reserved two nights.
I headed off on my birthday around 9:30 and after stopping along the way for gas, coffee, photos, etc., I pulled in to Clifton around 1:45. Then I wandered a bit and got to my hotel by 2:30.
After a quick meal, I headed out to the cemetery with my iPad containing the grave’s photo.
The photo showed two tall Italian Cypress trees, and I figured I’d line them up with the mountains in the background to find the grave.
I got to the cemetery and was happy to find there were only two Italian Cypress trees, the ones in my photo. I could see them right through the cemetery entrance.
It didn’t take long to find the grave, but I was surprised and pleased to find it was now marked with a simple cross atop the concrete. Teresita was etched into one arm of the cross, Urrea into the other.
The fence was decorated with a rosary, and there were pink and yellow plastic flowers tied to the fence. A candle to the Virgin of Guadalupe and a small card called an estampita (a little stamp) for the Virgin sat at the base of the cross. The estampita had the Virgin’s likeness on the front and a prayer on the back. The rim of the concrete was decorated with rocks.
I poured out some of my sorrows, told her about Covid and the terrible divisiveness in our country. Then I asked her to intervene. She’s a saint, after all.
We chatted for about twenty minutes. Truth be told, she didn’t really chat. But she listened.
As I left, I asked her to come to me in my dreams.
I visited her the following day, leaving some fresh-picked flowers on her grave, and stopped by again on my way out of town the morning I left.
Each time as I left, I asked her to visit me.
She hasn’t yet, but who’s to know? If you’ve read my post of a few weeks ago, you know I sometimes encounter spirits.
Teresa, I’m ready for a visit.