The Culture of Faith, The New Wave of Tourism in SMA
by Blondina Clarke
While San Miguel offers a perfect snap shot into colonial Mexico history and art, a new interest has emerged with tourists into the unique and fascinating culture of faith here. The city is distinguished by its religious festivities, an extraordinary mixture of an ancestral pagan past and the Catholic faith. The history of these customs and their modern practices now brings new waves of tourists seeking a more profound Mexican experience to present day expressions of faith.
Leading visiting universities, pilgrims and travel groups is local historian, Joseph Toone. Toone provides “a primer for San Miguel de Allende’s more unique spiritual traditions and celebrations.”. Mr. Toone says, “Today’s tourists want more than a presentation of architecture or stories of independence. They crave knowledge of what everyday objects and events symbolize both in the prehistoric past, and in today’s fiestas.”
Mr. Toone is referring to the many statues, parades, fireworks, fiestas and other Catholic and indigenous symbols we see daily around town and yet do not know the history or the impact the symbols have on local faith and culture.
Nevin Headley of Manhattan, a recent visitor who participated in tours and workshops offered by the library on culture and faith led by Toone states “In San Miguel, there are religious celebrations almost every day of the year. Though beautiful and often moving, to us visitors these can be confusing. Toone’s interactive and humorously wry lectures and tours on various religious aspects of San Miguel were real eye-openers.”
Even foreign-born full time residents are lining up to enjoy the new face of tourism. Local Kevin Wenrich, formerly of Calgary, states “His storytelling, knowledge, and sense of humor enabled me to better understand Mexican culture and the Catholic religion. Even as a life-long Protestant I found the history and images to be fascinating and my daily sights are more meaningful.”
To promote the culture of faith in SMA special tours are offered Thursday and Friday mornings at 9AM outside of the Oratorio church. Tours and workshops can also be made by appointment at your convenience for you, your family or group.