The Hispanic world is dominated mainly by Catholicism. It is estimated that in the United States alone about 70% of Hispanics claim their practicing religion as being Catholic.
Hispanic Catholics believe that health is a gift given by god and should not be taken for granted. The prevention of illness and injury is an accepted practice that is accomplished through prayer, the wearing of religious medals or amulets and keeping religious relics in the home. The visiting of shrines, offering prayers and the lighting of candles is a frequently observed practice. Many homes have shrines setup with statues and pictures of saints and candles are lit here and prayers are recited.
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Symbols help Hispanics keep close to their faith by ensuring that they are always surrounded by them. Some examples include images of virgins, stamps of saints and crosses hanging all over homes. It is quite common to find in Hispanic homes a portrait of El Corazón de Jesús, a portrait of Jesus showing his bleeding heart surrounded by thorns and with his hands clasped in prayer. Many of the various churches around the Hispanic world portray Jesus in very different ways. Some places may have figures of Jesus portraying him as looking somewhat Mestizo (a person of mixed European and native American descent) while others may portray him as being white with blue eyes. The main symbols of Hispanic religion are:
* The cross
* Images of saints
* The rosary
* Image of the Virgin Mary.
Saints and Patrons
Most communities celebrate their countries patron saint by dedicating a day for this purpose with festivals, ‘Las Fiestas Patronales’ and religious services. Most Hispanic countries combine the rituals and beliefs of Roman Catholicism with African or Native American rituals and beliefs. This is the case with Santería, popular with Afro-Cubans, which combines old African beliefs in the form of Roman Catholic saints and rituals. Other combinations of beliefs include Spiritism and Curanderismo. Saints and patrons are communicated with through prayers. Some famous Hispanic saints and the country they are patrons of are:
1) San Juan Bautista- Patron of Puerto Rico
2) Nuestra Señora de Chiquinquirá- Patron virgin of Colombia
3) La Virgen de la Caridad- Patron virgin of Cuba
4) Nuestra Señora de Altagracia- Patron virgin of the Dominican Republic
5) Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe- Patron virgin of Mexico.
Novenas play an important role in the Hispanic Catholic religion. Novenas are prayers which last a duration of nine days hence the name novena which translate to novem in Latin meaning nine. The novena serves the purpose of helping those who prays in his tribulations. Novenas are offered to saints or virgins in order to solve particular afflictions, the most popular of the novenas includes the novenas dedicated to the Virgin Mary under a wide range of names such as ‘La Virgen del Socorro’, the virgin of perpetual help, the virgin of the immaculate conception, la Virgen de...