Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions

2019 Edition
| Editors: Henri Gooren

Vows to Saints

  • Daisy VargasEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27078-4_199


In Latin America, vows to saints are known as mandas or promesas. Traditionally, scholars of Latin American religion have understood this as “propitiation” or a reciprocal agreement made between a devotee and the saint figure chosen to fulfill a specific concern. Devotees to Roman Catholic saints will make a petition to a saint, asking for favors ranging from healing illnesses to completing journeys safely; in turn, when the petition is realized, the devotee will fulfill the contract made with the saint (Gruzinski 1995).

Scholars and devotees argue that vows to saints cannot be reduced to a simple transactional agreement; instead, it includes feelings of love and affection as well as a feeling of compulsion towards the saint (Hughes 2010). For a petition, or vow, to a saint to be realized the devotee is expected to approach the image in the appropriate ritual posture of “supplication” (Taylor 2011). Though these practices have their roots in Tridentine European Catholic...


Manda Milagros Milagritos Retablos Exvotos Pilgrimage 
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California RiversideRiversideUSA