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AP PHOTOS: Mayan devotees celebrate folk saint

Wednesday - 10/30/2013, 12:30pm  ET

SAN ANDRES XECUL, Guatemala (AP) -- The Mayan followers of the folk saint Maximon believe he likes to smoke and drink and have plenty of available cash.

He's revered in several towns in Guatemala's highlands. Every year in those towns, the saint's effigy is put in a different house or business. Its location isn't revealed until the morning of Oct. 28, when the faithful head to the shrine and hold a big party with plenty of alcohol and fireworks.

People in San Andres Xecul celebrated Maximon this week by presenting him with bottles of Coca-Cola, beer and whiskey, cigars and cash, seeking solutions to their problems.

He is often associated -- though not by the official church -- with St. Simon the Zealot, whose feast day is Oct. 28. But unlike other saints in Latin America, Maximon is seen by his followers as being able to grant both good and evil requests -- from helping to yield better crops to finding love to recovering from an illness to taking revenge on an enemy.

"If I have faith in Maximon, he will help me at any moment" said Juan Carlos Toc, a 45-year-old Quiche Mayan waiting his turn to make his offering.

Some of the faithful traveled long distances to give thanks for favors granted or just to pay respect to the mischievous-looking saint, whose origins are a mystery but who represents a mixture of Christian and pre-Hispanic rituals.

A mix of wise man, healer and avenger, Maximon carries a cane, wears a mustache and always has a lit cigar or cigarette in his mouth.

At times, his effigy is dressed more like a bandit than a saint, wearing aviator sunglasses, a bandanna and a fedora. Other times, he has a business suit and a cowboy hat adorned with red and green feathers.


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