Honoring Santo Toribio, the “Holy Coyote”

by Robert Lentz

At Mass this morning at St. Camillus, Friar Erick Lopez preached a wonderful homily about St. Toribio Romo, known as the “Holy Coyote” or Santo Pollero for how he helps migrants cross the border between Mexico and the U.S. (He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.) We were even more blessed at Mass to have a new icon in the church. It’s a stunning painting by Brother Robert Lentz of none other than St. Toribio Romo. (Take note of the army surplus store canteen for bringing water to those crossing the desert and the saint also has muddy shoes.) I trust the U.S. Catholic bishops are praying mightily to St. Toribio for help passing comprehensive immigration reform and a seven-year path to citizenship. Here’s the gist of the popular stories still told about Santo Toribio:

Located about two hours from Guadalajara and near the town of Jalostotitlan, the village (of Santa Ana) consists of a few houses, fertile land for planting, and the temple where the martyr is venerated.Saturday is the most popular visiting day of the faithfulIn the makeshift parking lot (by the temple) one sees autos with United States licenses, but with Mexican owners. In one of them Otilio (Othello) has traveled here, a brown-skinned young man wearing cowboy boots and a Texan hat. He comes from Nevada in order to see the saint, who just little more than a year ago, helped him cross the border. “A friend and I left Jalostotitlan with the intention of working in the United States, but when we were close to the border, we were assaulted and beaten up. They (the robbers) took all our money, and we were disheartened. We didn’t have any money left to pay the “pollero;” not even enough to pay for our passage back home. Suddenly, an auto stopped beside us, and a priest invited us to get in. We told him about what had happened to us, and he told us not to worry. He would help us cross the border. And he did. As we were getting out of his car, he gave us some money and told us to look for work in a nearby factory. We would get hired there.” Otilio’s voice still quivers with emotion upon telling how overcome with gratitude they were. They asked the priest to give them his address in order to repay the money he lent them, with their first paychecks. “He said to us, “You are from the state of Jalisco; right? When you have earned sufficient money, go to Santa Ana and ask for Toribio Romo. That’s my name.’ With the money he lent us, we paid for our lodging and did, in fact, get work in the place he recommended to us. Several months afterwards, we went to Santa Ana. When we entered the church and saw the picture above the altar, right away we recognized him as the priest who had helped us. Upon inquiring about him, we were told (by the priest in charge) that he had died about 70 years ago. We then broke out in tears and gave our testimony..Since then, we visit the temple of our protector at least once a year.”

Read more about Santo Toribio: A Saint Who Guides Migrants to the Promised Land Immigrants Honor Their Saint

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