Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Legend of Gauchito Gil Lives On

What can we even say about this man? We`d seen the shrines. We`d heard the name. We`d almost bought the yerba mate brand. But in Mercedes we finally learned the legend. Apparently Gauchito Gil is Argentina`s version of Robin Hood - a cattle rustler who robbed from the rich to take care of the poor. As the story goes the man who finally captured and killed Anotonio "Gauchito" Gil was told by Gil before his execution, "When you return to your household your son will be dying. He will not survive unless you return to the place of my execution and beg forgiveness." The man killed Gil and returned home to find that his son was indeed gravely ill. He rushed back to the beheaded body of Gauchito Gil, buried him, and begged forgiveness. When he returned home the second time his son had been healed. And thus the legend of Gauchito Gil`s miracles began. Now, built around the supposed execution and burial site of Gauchito Gil a strange and eclectic homage has been built up to honor this man.

People travel from all over the country to make promises and ask for miracles. Here you see the candles that are lit, and just a few of the thousands upon thousands of plaques honoring Gil. Each year, on January 8th, up to 150,000 people make the pilgrimage to this sacred place in honor of this beloved hero.

People bring all types of offerings to Gil, from wedding dresses to soccer jerseys, bicycles to weapons, and even cars!

But this place is not only for the giving, it is also for the receiving. Because who can leave this sacred place without a plastic souvenir statue, sticker, t-shirt... or perhaps some rosary beads?

Mercedes, thank you for sharing this legend with us!

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