The story of La Difunta

The name Folk Saints is an ode to the place where I grew up.

In the town where I was born, San Juan, at the base of the Andes mountains, the folk saint Difunta Correa, or Deolinda Correa, is a cultural staple of the region.

La Difunta was a common woman. Around the year 1840, while the civil war was happening in Argentina, she left her home with her infant son and a few provisions, to find her husband, who was forced to join the militia. After days of walking in the desert, Deolinda sat under an Algarrobo tree and while breastfeeding her son, she ended up dying of thirst and hunger. A few days later, a group of muleteers found the baby still alive and healthy.

The common people believe that the survival of her son was just her first miracle. Over the years her devotion has grown stronger, and the people truly believe in her miraculous powers. There’s a beautiful sanctuary on the city's outskirts, and thousands of people from all over the country travel to ask for favors and pay their devotion for the miracles they believe to be performed by the saint.

While I’m not a devotee in the way the people of my town are, I hold this cultural tradition very dear to my heart. There’s an element of magical realism in the devotion to Latin American Folk Saints that I miss and remember with love: The prayer, the promise, the superstition, the beautiful belief in something fantastical, magical, and beyond sight. I see the devotion to folk saints in Latin America as a common cultural thread that unites us. This is a side of me and my people that I respect, honor, and celebrate.