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Espinazo: Then and Now

The town of Espinazo, Nuevo Leon has changed over the years much like the Fidencista Movement. More recently, Espinazo has traversed the boundaries of Nuevo León and has crossed the U.S. – México Border.

The life, time, and places of the healer of Espinazo, Nuevo León, México, El Niño Fidencio, were magnificently captured with the magic of the lens of the camera and the artistic eye of photographers of the time. Only a handful of these photographs may presently be made available via the El Niño Fidencio Research Project for informational and educational purposes.

These copies of prints of the impressive revelations were introduced and made available to Dr. Antonio N. Zavaleta by the late America Lopez de la Fuente de Ybarra in the late 1980s. These photographs taken during the time that El Niño Fidencio was alive provides a historical record of events in the life of Mexico’s most famous curandero.

After Fidencio’s death in 1938, his memory and spirit are still revered. Today, Fidencio’s following honors him with two fiestas annually, in March and in October each year. More recent photographs, depict sites considered sacred and visited year-round by the Fidencistas.

The Pirulito

The oldest and most revered site second only to the actual tomb of El Niño Fidencio is the California Pepper tree where the spiritual transformation of El Niño Fidencio took place.

Pirulito in Espinazo, Nuevo León
This is an old photograph of the Pirulito in Espinazo, Nuevo León. Even then, multitudes would pay homage to the sacred place in Fidencio’s life.

The Columpio

columpio that El Niño Fidencio use
In the background is the original columpio that El Niño Fidencio used. Niño Fidencio healed deaf-mutes and healed some who were paralyzed by strapping them on his lap.

The Charquito

El Charquito
This is the water and mud pool used today in Espinazo for the “limpias, curaciones, bendiciones y bautismos,” ritual cleansings, healings, blessings, and baptizing. Also known as “El Charquito”

When Fidencio was alive, between the months of April and September, he would take the masses a few kilometer east of Espinazo to a hot spring called Puerto Blanco.

He would have the crowds bathe in these waters, (Charco Azul), a pool of water stemming from underground natural spring water.

Another method Fidencio used for the blessing, healing, and entertaining the large numbers that would come to him for reasons concerning…

La Dicha de la Santa Cruz

The, “Dicha de la Santa Cruz”, good fortune of the saintly cross-site today in Espinazo. When Fidencio was alive, there were two corrals in this area.

Fidencio had the mental patients placed in one corral temporarily while the time arrived during the day to treat and “heal” them. When the time came, he would go or have someone, usually, a family member brings the mental patient to a room in the house where he would then go in with his cougar, (named Concha), and a few moments later the mental patient would come out of the room healed and well.

Fidencio had the ill with leprosy, (men and women together), placed in the second corral and would boil the medicine on the spot and have them drink that with which most with leprosy would “heal” and become well in a few days told say Fidencio would boil lizards, snakes, spiders, bugs, and herbs to heal those with leprosy.

El Cerro de la Campana

El Cerro del la Campana
A photo of El Cerro de la Campana took during the time that El Niño Fidencio was alive and still healing at this sacred place.
Cerro de la Campana
El Cerro de la Campana is the holy and sacred site in which  Fidencio blessed and healed the multitudes. The followers of Fidencio still come here to hold spiritual rituals, prayer in search of healing and answers to problems of everyday life. Cerro de la Campana Grande, (large bell hill), is just north of Espinazo and on the way to the sacred hill, Cerro de la Campana. 

The Cemeteries of Espinazo

Fidencio often officiated over funerals because of the lack of clergy. Due to the high death rates, several cemeteries were created. The high death rate was due to the large numbers of sick people that came to seek Fidencio but could not be seen in time.
cerrito del panteon
Many are buried here at the cemetery on the hill (cerrito del panteon). These are the tombs of the late Enrique Lopez de la Fuente and other family members.
Cerro de la Guerra
North to the south view of Cerro de la Guerra looking from the summit of Cerrito.

La Gavia

Hacienda La Gavia
Dr . Antonio Zavaleta and guide, Monico, at the gate, (entrance to the Hacienda, La Gavia).

The Madero

The Madero
The Madero as it existed during the time that El Niño Fidencio was alive.

The Tomb of El Niño Fidencio

Niño Fidencio's tomb
This is the view of the entrance to Niño Fidencio’s tomb from west to east.
Niño Fidencio's tomb
Niño Fidencio’s tomb

La Gruta

mountain range west of Espinazo
A cave where Fidencio visited and “healed” is up in this mountain range west of Espinazo.

The Espinazo Train Station

People waiting for train
An old photo of the same location. People are waiting for the train and in the distance, the water-tower can be seen.
During the time of Fidencio, the train would stop and
bring visitors and the sick to Espinazo. This mode of
transportation was popular and the fastest way to
get to Espinazo.

Dr. Tony Zavaleta grew up in Brownsville and is a member of one of the 13 founding families of northern Mexico. He is the nephew of Dr. Joe Zavaleta and Prax Orive, each of whom served on the TSC Board.

Dr. Zavaleta graduated from Saint Joseph Academy in 1964 and entered Texas Southmost College, graduating and transferring to The University of Texas at Austin in 1966, where he completed a Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1976. Moving back to Brownsville in 1976, Dr. Zavaleta began teaching sociology and anthropology at Texas Southmost College and at Pan American University at Brownsville. Dr. Zavaleta became the first Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for UTB/TSC, and also served as the Dean of the College of Mathematics and Science and Technology. He next served as Vice President for Partnership Affairs, where he coordinated all of the work between the TSC Board and UTB, and then became the Vice President for External Affairs, which included governmental relations and all external programs such as Workforce Training and Continuing Education. Dr. Zavaleta served as Interim Provost, the chief operating officer of UTB/TSC, and then as the Associate Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 2011 he retired from the administration to return to full-time teaching. Dr. Zavaleta retired in May 2016 after 40 years of service.

Dr. Zavaleta is regarded as one of the top experts on the US-Mexico Border, and frequently speaks throughout Mexico and the U.S. Dr. Zavaleta was appointed to two Federal commissions by Presidents Reagan and Obama, and he served two terms on the Brownsville City Commission, followed by a term on the City of Brownsville Civil Service Commission.

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