“Fidencistas” is the name given to believers and faithful followers of El Niño Fidencio. The name “Fidencista” comes from the full name of El Niño: Jose Fidencio Sintora Constantino.
The Fidencistas visit the village of Espinazo, Nuevo León, a desert village located two hours north of Monterrey. El Niño Fidencio lived and grew on Espinazo and his spiritual birth was under a pirul tree.
The Fidencistas visit the tomb of El Niño and also participate in the Espinazo pilgrimages and pay tribute to his tomb. It is customary for believers to sing and praise in their graves. The pilgrimages are directed by a “matter” of the local mission. Matter is a “box” of the spirit of El Niño.
The image of the box represents the act of when the matter channels the spirit of El Niño. Through matter, El Niño heals, advises, and comforts the people who visit it and also for those who seek it. When the subject is being channeled, El Niño takes charge and it is when they refer to the subject as El Niño.
The faithful followers congregate in a temple that is guided by a matter. The altar is fundamental for the temple and is dedicated to Niño Fidencio. It is usually decorated with El Niño photographs and other items such as candles, incense, and photographs of the needy. The altar is considered as a very special place and therefore it is very careful and constantly cleaned.
The March holidays are celebrated every 17, 18 and 19 of the month. They are also celebrated in honor of the day of their saint and on October 17 to 19 they celebrate their birthday. During the holidays, the Fidencistas arrive from Colorado, Michigan, California, and Texas as well as from the interior of Mexico to visit “The Holy Land.” The Fidencistas and interested visitors fill the streets of Espinazo waiting for a glimpse of the spirit of the Child.
If you would like more information about the life of El Niño Fidencio and El Movimiento Fidencista, please visit the following link that includes an article written by Dr. Antonio N. Zavaleta titled: “El Niño Fidencio” A Popular Saint for the New Millennium.
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.