The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop devotees of Saint Jude Thaddeus flocking to the San Hipólito church in central Mexico City on Wednesday to pay their respects to the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes on his annual feast day.
Thousands of believers defied calls from Mexico City authorities to stay away from the church in order to avoid possible transmission of the virus.
The devotees, many carrying flowers and statues of their beloved saint, began arriving at the church also known as the Temple of San Judas Tadeo on Tuesday night and larger numbers descended on it throughout Wednesday. Some arrived barefooted or walking on their knees.
The Mexico City government and the church had said that nobody would be allowed into the temple due to the pandemic and feast day services were canceled. However, the authorities relented and allowed groups of 30 people to enter and show their devotion to their saint in five-minute intervals.
“We welcome them, say a prayer of blessing and tell them to leave,” Mario González, the rector of San Hipólito, told the Associated Press.
As they waited for a chance to enter, crowds of people, some of whom were not wearing face masks, ignored social distancing protocols and gathered together in close proximity.
While hundreds made the journey to pay homage to their saint, the annual celebration was only about one-tenth its normal size, according to Mexico City Culture Minister José Alfonso Suárez.
One fervent follower who was undeterred by the pandemic was a 45-year-old man identified only as Jorge by the newspaper El Universal.
He said he rode his bicycle 20 kilometers from the México state municipality of Tlalnepantla to pay his respects.
“I come every 28th of the month with faith and devotion. My faith is bigger than Covid,” he said while clutching his plaster figure of Jude the Apostle.
Jorge and many other believers agreed that their faith helps them overcome all manner of adversities, including the coronavirus.
“Saint Jude can handle everything, even the damn Covid,” said one. “People should pray hard, they should have faith and that son of a bitch will put an end to all this pandemic. That’s what I’m going to ask for and you’ll see that everything will be fine after this.
San Judas’ feast day also brought out vendors of religious items who set up their wares on Hidalgo Avenue, knowing that the faithful would arrive despite the growing coronavirus case tally and death toll.
As might be expected, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes is especially popular with the poor and those who have had run-ins with the law. There are thousands of street shrines to San Judas Tadeo in the streets of Mexico City, especially its poor areas.
The saint also has followers in many other parts of the country with significant numbers in Monterrey, where many devotees also ignored the risk of coronavirus infection to gather Wednesday at the San Judas Temple in the city’s downtown area.