How & why is Catholicism important to bless me ultima
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In New Mexican culture, Christianity is tied closely to the pagan beliefs and myths that defined the native communities before the arrival of the Spanish colonists. Although Ultima is a curandera with the knowledge of herbs and plants, she is also a Catholic who adheres to Catholic holidays and expectations. Yet, her Catholicism does not overshadow or even necessarily equal the scope of her other power, a fact which is highlighted in the mob scene at the end of Chapter 12. Antonio’s mother is devoutly Catholic but chooses to overlook the pagan elements of Ultima’s life to view her as a close friend. In both cases, Christianity and pagan beliefs are not mutually exclusive but somehow coexist in the culture of Guadalupe.
Antonio’s immediate trust of Ultima also demonstrates this uneasy balance. If Ultima were evil or an antagonist against Catholicism, Antonio would not be able to feel so comfortable in her presence. Moreover, even though he knows that owls are usually the symbol of a bruja, or witch, Antonio somehow senses that Ultima’s owl is different. Although religion cannot explain Ultima’s powers, Antonio and his family are still able to acknowledge and embrace her as both a curandera and a Catholic.