The last decade or so has witnessed a surge of spiritism throughout Latin America which is often grafted on to, or developed from, the majority religion (which in most cases is Catholicism). The creation of “folk saints” is one such phenomenon. Where the saints of the church may seem other-worldly and inaccessible, the “folks saints” are earthy and are easily related to. Consider the ‘Holy Thugs’ as an example – these are individuals who led criminal lifestyles, but are viewed by the spiritist community as having some redeeming features, as well and being accessible in the afterlife to ordinary people.
The 13 minute film made by the excellent Journeyman Pictures explores the spiritist phenomenon in Venezuela and gives an insight into the social factors that drive people to turn to spiritist ‘saints’ (at least one of whom is accredited with being able to perform open heart surgery no less!!). Uncertainty, poverty, violence and desperation are the drivers which have steered away many people from the church and into spiritism. This is unfortunately a perfect example of the church failing in its duty to articulate a vision that speaks to those who feel ignored and marginalised. The resultant gaping hole is filled with a spiritual hotchpotch that is as non-sensical as it is all-pervasive.
Anyway, here is the film: