The ribbons of San Lorenzo Martir of Zinacantan

Young and old gather outside the church of San Lorenzo, by faith or by custom people come to fulfill the tradition of their ancestors and honor the patron saint of Zinacantan.

Under a white canvas roof, everything necessary to celebrate Mass has been installed, people anxiously await the midday of God’s time, not summer time, they are attentive to the order of the priest, who has arrived from the Diocese of San Cristóbal to officiate the mass. Indigenous authorities of the village showing off their traditional clothing, accompany this Catholic ritual.

At the beginning of the Colony, when the Dominican missionaries arrived in this place, they founded the Church in honor of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. Two hundred years later they withdrew and left the charge to the local people, changing the patron saint to San Lorenzo Mártir, whose figure carved in wood appeared on the hill of Tzontehuitz, the old men say. The bells and the thirty-five Saints that can be seen inside the church are cared for by the traditional authorities. Nobody can touch them more than them and with a special reason, punctually fulfilling the celebrations in honor of each one during the year of their assignment.

When the celebration of mass is over, people return to the interior of the church. Inside you feel the warmth of the thousands of lit candles and the imagination flies in that sea of ​​colored flowers that adorn every corner of it. It is the main day and it is important to comply with the ritual. An old woman stands in front of the image of Saint Lawrence while carefully inspecting the colored ribbons that hang over the figure, matching the traditional clothing that dresses the saint, the ribbons are chosen one by one, just like the colors of the rainbow. One will write a promise or request on the ribbons and the patron saint will have to fulfill it. That ribbon will stay there, adding to the thousands of more ribbons that have accumulated over the years. I buy a couple of ribbons and I stand at the end of the long line that has formed to pass in front of San Lorenzo. My purpose is to pray and thank the saint, at the same time that I observe the ritual that each person does. The smell of the flowers fills the space and a magical energy is perceived in the place. Some women, after making their prayer, place the ribbon in their hair or on their wrist as an ornament and to guide them on the right path. Others, like me, take it along with some flowers as a souvenir, which will serve as a good luck charm for the home or business …