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Santo Niño de Atocha

Santo Niño de Atocha
School of José Rafael Aragón (Colonial Spanish American santero)
Date not known
Paint on wood.
17.5 x 13.8 cm

"A seated child wearing a white robe, red cape, and black hat with a red feather holds a basket in his right hand and a staff in his right."

In the Santo collection at Regis University, Denver, Colorado.

I became familiar with the Santo Niño de Atocha when I watched the other Pablo Escobar program on Netflix, Pablo Escobar, Patrón del Mal. His image was in the opening credits at the start of each episode. But it took seeing retablos of him for me to finally read about him. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:


Devotion to Holy Infant of Atocha originally began as a Marian devotion with a medieval statue of the Madonna and Child in Toledo, Spain. According to Juan Javier Pescador, it originally reflected devotions to three different depictions of the Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Atocha, Our Lady of Antigua, and Our Lady of Pregnancies that later coalesced into Our Lady of Atocha.

The image of the Divine Child was detachable, and devout families would often borrow the image of the infant when a woman was about to give birth to her child.

In the 13th century, Spain was under Muslim rule. The town of Atocha, now part of Madrid’s Arganzuela district, was lost to the Muslims, and many Christians there were taken prisoners as spoils of war. The Christian prisoners were not fed by the jailers, but by family members who brought them food. According to pious legend, the caliph ordered that only children under the age of 12 were permitted to bring food. Conditions became increasingly difficult for those men without small children. The women of Atocha prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Atocha at a nearby parish, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to ask her son Jesus for help.

Reports soon began among the people of Atocha that an unknown child under the age of twelve and dressed in pilgrim’s clothing, had begun to bring food to childless prisoners at night. The women of the town returned to Our Lady of Atocha to thank the Virgin for her intercession, and noticed that the shoes worn by the Infant Jesus were tattered and dusty. They replaced the shoes of the Infant Jesus, but these became worn again. The people of Atocha took this as a sign that it was the Infant Jesus who went out every night to help those in need.

By A.Davey on 2016-02-12 12:26:43

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