Los Angeles • Immigrants are flocking to churches in Southern California to see a wooden statue of a saint cherished by border-crossers who make the perilous journey to the United States.
The 4-foot-tall statue of Santo Toribio Romo Gonzalez was flown from the Mexican state of Jalisco and is making stops in churches in three California counties, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. Many immigrants say Romo Gonzalez has appeared to them during difficult moments on their journeys north, with some carrying a photo of the saint in their wallets.
"I owe him everything," said Jose Ochoa, a 32-year-old cook who welcomed the statue to his church in Lake Forest. Before Ochoa crossed the border illegally in 2005 with his 4-year-old son to reunite with his wife and family, he had been given a small, laminated photo of the saint by his grandfather. "I couldn't imagine dying without coming to see him to say thank you."