The Black Christ

Black Christ

There are many legends about the Black Christ. Some of them will tell you the story of the one in Valle de Bravo, others of the one in Michoacán or Colombia, but on this occasion, I’ll tell you the story of the Black Christ in the Metropolitan Cathedral, better known as the Lord of the Poison. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact date in which the effigy of the Christ arrived at the Cathedral, nevertheless there are records of its existence from the times in which the country was known as New Spain.

The story has Don Fermín, a wealthy but humble man who always gave help to those who needed it, as its protagonist. Despite his standing as a gentleman with plenty of businesses to take care of, he made time for his family and friends and he went to church every Sunday. He listened to the words of the priest attentively, he took the communion with fervor and had the habit of leaving a gold coin at the feet of the Christ that hung on the left side of the atrium and never left without humbly kissing the feet of the sacred figure.

Yes, Don Fermín was an exemplary man, loved and respected by everyone. By everyone, except for Don Ismael Treviño, who professed an enormous envy of him. He abhorred every single one of his actions, and was always looking for a way to defame or discredit him. He constantly spoke behind his back, trying to besmirch his name, but he never succeeded. No one knows why he hated Don Fermín so much. He never confessed and no one found out, but Don Ismael is remembered to this day because of a foul ploy that endangered Don Fermín’s life.

One day, full of hatred and envy, he decided to murder Don Fermín. He looked for a method that would leave no clue, not even the slightest hint that could lead back to him as a culprit. That’s how he came across a peculiar poison of delayed action that left no trace at all. He came up with a ruse to invite Don Fermín to his house for dinner and then slip the poison in his glass of wine. Don Fermín, who ignored the ill intentions and hatred of his counterpart, accepted the invitation gladly.

They shared a pleasant meal and they chatted all night. Don Ismael managed to stay cheerful and jovial, for he knew that that night would be one of the last Don Fermín would spend alive. The days went by and Don Fermín’s health diminished at an alarming rate, no remedy seemed to help and obviously, his mood took a dive for the worse as well. Nevertheless, he never stopped going to church. He showed up very early next Sunday at mass, watched closely by Ismael, who eagerly awaited the moment of his rival’s death. After the sermon, Don Fermín walked towards the Christ and kissed its feet. In that very moment a black spot appeared on the figure’s toes, which immediately started spreading like a cancer all over the Christ, until it covered it in its entirety.

Horrified by the miracle he had just witnessed, Don Ismael ran to Fermín and confessed that he had tried to poison him and the Christ had acquired that coloring after absorbing the poison and sparing his life. Fermín bore no hard feelings against him and in front of the whole gathering he forgave Ismael and embraced him like a brother. The Black Christ or Lord of the Poison can nowadays be found in the Metropolitan Cathedral and can be visited whenever you want.

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The Mulatto Woman of Córdoba

Mulata

There’s plenty of known stories of witches and sorceresses, but none like the legend of the Mulata (Mulatto Woman) of Córdoba: a woman born in the city of Veracruz when the Holy Inquisition undertook the mission of terminating any and all who comitted acts of sorcery.

Legend says her name was Soledad, but everyone knew her better by her ‘healing powers’. She earned her fame in Veracruz for brewing potions that healed even the most mysterious ailments. It’s also been said that she could make a bad husband to return home, gave jobs to the poor, found what had been lost and healed those left for dead.

Her popular and ‘magical’ services were known from the main streets of the State capital all the way down to the last boardwalk of the pier, and that’s how the Holy Inquisition found out about her. However, finding her was not easy, and neither was holding her captive.

When the Mulata was finally arrested, she was tried and condemned to burn in a pyre in the public plaza for witchcraft and sorcery. Between the trial and her execution she was imprisoned in the deepest, darkest and coldest cell in San Juan de Ulúa, a prison built on an island close to the port of Veracruz.

The story says that one night the Mulata approached a guard with a charming smile and asked him for a lump of coal to draw with. No one was ever capable of denying anything to a face as beautiful as hers, or those eyes as black as the darkest abyss so deep and so mysterious one could get vertigo by just looking straight into them. The guard gave her the coal immediately, under the condition that he be allowed to watch her while she drew.

When she was finally done, Soledad called the guard over to show him what she had created. The guard was astonished at such a magnificent work of art. It was a drawing of a boat, a huge Spanish galleo with big, wide, white sails that navigated on troubled waters, its bow pointing towards a distant horizon.

“It’s magnificent” he told her. “It just needs to sail away”. The Mulata smiled, showing off her pearly-white teeth.

“That can be solved” she said with laughter in her voice and she jumped directly into the drawing. Astonished and incapable of believing his own eyes, the guard watched her walk on the deck, take the wheel and point the ship at the horizon. The galleon faded into the distance and got lost in the crack of some wall.

No one ever saw the Mulata again. Nobody knew anything about her after that.