Jim Vogel

Santa Teresita

Oil on canvas panel with charred wood frame in collaboration with Christen Vogel, Image: 28.5"h x 15"w, framed: 31"h x 17.5"w, Item No. 16370,

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Teresita Urrea was born on October 15, 1873 on a rancho in Sinaloa, Mexico. She was an illegitimate child of a wealthy father and a Tehueco Indian mother. As a teenager she apprenticed under a curandera, an herbalist healer. After a near death experience at sixteen, Teresita claimed the Virgin Mary had spoken to her and she now had healing powers. She then administered her powers to all that came to her, including many of the native Yaqui and Mayo Indians.

Due to her father’s political opposition to Mexico’s President Porfirio Diaz, Don Tomás moved his family north to Cabora in Sonora. This lead Teresita Urrea to be known as La Santa de Cabora. During the violence of the Mexican Revolution, her reputation as a healer grew. As her reputation grew, so did the risk of harm to her family. Teresita was identified as a folk saint and source of inspiration by many of the revolutionaries. The battle cry “Viva La Santa de Cabora” was chanted in her honor even if she espoused a peace-based doctrine. To seek safety, her family moved over the border to Nogales and then Tubac, Arizona.

In the United States Teresita moved among the border states, from El Paso, Texas to San Jose, California. The pilgrims who sought healing followed her every step, their numbers swelling into the thousands. In California, a promoter decided to sponsor Teresita to go on a faith-healing tour of the country, ranging as far as New York City. After the tour, it was said her ability to heal was greatly diminished, possibly even gone. Even though it is unclear whether Teresita knew her powers were being exploited for monetary gain, it is said she lost her gift because of it. In 1902, she returned to Arizona to bury her father and she took that as an opportunity to rest as well.

Teresita Urrea died of tuberculosis on January 11, 1906. Her funeral was attended by over four hundred people. She was never officially canonized a saint by the Catholic church but she will forever be known as Santa Teresita de Cabora, folk saint of the borderlands.

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