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El Tiradito, Tucson’s Sinner Shrine

December 12, 2016 , , , ,

We had a houseguest over the weekend who was starting a long car journey to Michigan. I took her on a miniature guided tour of Tucson Saturday afternoon. We stopped at the venerable Arizona Inn, near home, to visit the Christmas tree, the croquet court, and the elegance that is the Inn. Next stop was the U of A Poetry Center. My guest was delighted at the chance to read for about 45 minutes in our fabulous environment dedicated strictly to poetry. She found some great poets, and so did I. From there we travelled to my favorite, often overlooked, art in the city, some forged metal window guards by Tom Bredlow , a Tucson blacksmith of great skill and artistry, that depict the desert animals.  Bredlow is now a total recluse who continued a legacy of Raul Vasquez.  Tom even purchased some of his tools when Raul passed away.  He continued to hammer out super fine metal art that graces the city.  These window guards are in the Barrio Viejo de Tucson, looking right at home.

Our final destination on the tour was El Tiradito.  I had given her a couple of milagros carved from jet to make  offering/wishes along her route.  The tradition of wishing on this spot is deeply rooted in the history of Tucson.  This popular shrine is in use since the 1870s.  It stands on what was once part of El Camino Real, or royal road to Mexico City.  Padre Kino himself was once walking on this exact location, giving it a connection to the Spanish conquest in the 1600’s.  The legend surrounding the shrine is a story of a doomed love triangle and murdered lover who could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery due to his sinful final state.  The murdered man was supposedly buried under the stoop of his lover’s house, where she built a shrine.  Juan Oliveras is the only sinner to have his own place on the National Historical Register.

El Tiradito

El Tiradito

Today is Virgin of Guadalupe Day, 12 December, the day Mexico celebrates the day of its patron saint.  Before the Spanish conquest Mexico had a female deity protecting it. Tonantzin was on the job since prehistory as an Aztec goddess. Her history and tradition is preColombian.  She is, and has been, the local female deity for centuries.  Our friend went to Mesilla, New Mexico on her first stopover after leaving us.  The nearby village of Tortugas  is the site of one of the oldest Virgin of Guadalupe celebrations in this country.  She is being fully initiated by our local Enchantment before heading north into the snow.  Her mystical as well as her physical journey is now blessed by both Tonantzin and Juan Oliveras.  Nice benediction.

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I love what you did with your guest. That’s so very cool. and historically interesting too.


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

December 12, 2016

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