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Elizabeth Ruiz

English 101

May 11, 2017

Saints Around Us (revised)

When you look up the word Saint the most common definitions say something along the

lines of a holy, spiritual, god-like person. As defined by Peter Kreeft, A saint knows all the

news, both the bad news of sin and the good news of salvation. A saint is a true scientist, a true

philosophe. Saints differ within every religion and go by different names and appearances but

they all seem to have similar characteristics that push them forward into that saint-like level. The

characteristics that take them from being a neighbor or teacher, into the god-like state of

saintliness. Saints are praised and worshiped to in order for those who believe in them to have

good fortune or to be helped in some way. They help their people find the paths they are looking

for and act as guides when someone needs guidance. These are similarities that are seen in

Perlas character as well. Perla is a saint because she willingly helps anyone that needs guidance

regardless of what the situation is.

Perla runs the local botanica in Agua Mansa, this is where the locals come to find remedies

for sicknesses, advice, and any other problem you could possibly think of. Perla is a curandera

and she plays the role of a healer in this town. The people of this town come from all walks of

life and experiences, but they all have one thing in common, the botanica. To many this is a safe

haven, a refuge, where they can find answers for problems no one else has the answers to. Many
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of the characters rely on the woman who runs this shop to guide them in the direction they need

to go. They rely on her to find a solution that doctors, or family members can't find. It hit me

why curanderos have survived all these years. It's faith, (Sandoval).Her remedies are

unconventional and vary depending on the situation, but she can always find a way to help even

if it's just with kind words and emotional support. One of the characteristics that separates a

normal being from a saint is, being a role model to those around them. Although Perlas life is not

a glamorous life, she lives a simple and honest one. Her life is devoted to running a business

given to her by her teacher Dario. Her role in the Agua Mansa community is that of a curandero.

She is devoted to helping those around her and they look up to her as someone they can rely on.

As mentioned by one of the characters, Rodrigo, she reminds him of his grandmother, someone

close to him. Even though he has just met this woman, he feels a connection with her almost

instantly. She gives off a secure and motherly aura, that many of the locals find comforting. This

motherly figure brings together and makes connections with all those who come to her and opens

a new path for them to follow forward.

The second saint-like characteristic Perla has is that she does not live a life of luxury, or

materials, and worldly possessions. Her home is the same one she lived in with her husband. The

botanica is also small and cramp but that doesn't prevent it from being useful. She lives a humble

life, waking up in the morning, going to work in the botanica and then going home afterwards.

One thing that Dario had told her, was that in order to be able to see the gift, she had to lose

something. She lost her chance to have children. Perla had always wanted children and to have a

family of her own, but her husband was sterile so she would never be able to have her perfect
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dream family. This loss of her dream is what Dario believed opened her to the world of being a

healer. In order to gain a gift you have to lose something of yourself as well. Although she felt

empty inside because she was not able to have children, she filled that empty space with the

botanica. She learned everything she possibly could from Dario and engrossed herself in the

healer lifestyle. Her notebook was filled with passages of notes, cures, rituals, anything and

everything that she needed to learn. The void left empty by her husbands sterility was now filled

with something great, something to help her community as a whole.

The third saint-like characteristic that Perla resembles is her ability to leave her own personal

problems behind in order to help her community with theirs. One of the characters that stuck out

the most to me was Rodrigo. He is a young boy who came to the United States to help provide

for his family. When things took a wrong turn he looked to Perla for help. This young boy was

abused and beaten by his abductors. He was held captive and sexually abused by these men.

Although his life was horrifying and traumatizing, he would sneak out whenever he could and

come to Perla. Before she knew what was going on she helped him with his English. She wrote

words and sentences for him to practice and learn. When she discovered what was going on

behind closed doors she did everything in her power to help him. As stated by Thomas J.

Craughwell, many people also look to saints as intercessors who can understand our earthly

struggles and will join us in prayers to God for assistance." Much like many of the other

characters whose stories we read about in the book. They all have some sort of problems whether

it be body image issues, a sick family member, or even money related problem, but what ties
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them all together is the botanica and Perla. Any time someone finds themselves in a situation

they can't seem to find an answer to they go to Perla.

The three main saint-like qualities Perla has are, her role model and motherly like figure to

the community. She is like family with those that she helps and they see her as someone they can

feel comfortable and safe around. The community looks up to her and out for her. The second

quality is her loss of materials and her own comforts. She has not only not been able to have kids

but she also lost her husband. Perla looks past these losses and sees forward into the future. She

uses the lessons she has learned through life and passes them onto the ones who need to be

shown the next way. Her personal struggles resonate with the struggles seen in those around her

and this is comforting to those seeking guidance from her. The last quality that proves her to be

saint-like is her selflessness. Even though the botanica is her way of earning a living, she does

not treat it as such. She accepts payment in order to make ends meet but she is also very selfless

in the thought of what she is doing. Perla is not obligated to help the Agua Mansa community

but it brings her gratitude to do it. She chooses to do this as her profession and enjoys helping

them. Her losses do not define her they only strengthen her and give her more reason to continue

to help and guide and heal the community that is so dear to her. This passion is what makes Perla

a saint.
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Works Cited

1. Kreeft, Peter. "What is a Saint?" Catholic Education Resource Center. Web. October

1987

http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/what-is-a-saint.html

2. Sandoval, Edgar. "Curandera's Spell May Soothe Your Soul." Los Angeles Times. Los

Angeles Times, 24 June 2000. Print.

3. Craughwell, Thomas J. "Seven Patron Saints for Healing and Comfort." Beliefnet.

Beliefnet, n.d. Web.

http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/prayer/2008/09/seven-saints-for-healing-and-comfort.asp