The Church in Argentina
Roman Catholicism is Argentina’s state religion brought to the country during the Spanish colonial era. The influence has been so strong that even after a century and a half of independence, the Roman Catholic Church still holds tremendous sway in Argentina with nearly 92% of residents subscribing to the faith.
Though Argentineans are religious by nature, this spirituality does not translate into regular mass attendance. A large number of people do not attend mass or observe the Christian mandates. However, other expressions of religious devotion can be observed on a daily basis, like the making the sign of the cross or recitation of a religious litany. The physical symbols of Christianity are omnipresent - the statues, the shrines, and the pastoral healers. However, growing hordes of foreigners are beginning to descend on the country for healing of another kind –medical tourism.
Plurality of Religions
The amended Constitution of 1994 provides for religious freedom. Though Roman Catholics are dominant, other religions like Spiritualism, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, Shamanism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam do exist. Protestant Evangelicals also find favor among the poor and the working class. It is not uncommon now to see places of worship of diverse faiths in the cities, all happily co-existing with the Roman Catholic Church.
Cults and the Veneration of the Dead
Religion in Argentina is far from a simple affair. In addition to the Holy Trinity, a range of saints and holy people receive due veneration. In addition, numerous cults exist and occupy an important place in people’s lives. These cults are usually animist with beginnings in folklore, history, and saint veneration. Faith in Argentina is inextricably linked to legends.One such legend centers on La Difunta Correa. Deolinda Correa, with her infant son, accompanied her husband during the Civil Wars. During the journey she died from starvation and thirst. When her body was found, her infant son was still feeding at her breast. This miracle resulted in a shrine to her memory, which now hosts17 chapels.
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