In this highly captivating book, Paul Vanderwood meticulously analyzes the cult of Juan Soldado, a widely venerated Mexican folk saint not acknowledged by the church. What makes this case so fascinating is the fact that the devotion emerged around the figure of Juan Castillo Morales, a young soldier convicted of the rape and murder of eight-year-old Olga Camacho and publicly executed by a firing squad in Tijuana in 1938. How is it possible that the perpetrator of such a heinous crime could become the center of a vibrant popular devotion? To answer this question, the author assumes the roles of detective, social historian, and anthropologist. The book is divided in three sections: “The Crime,” “Circumstances,” and “Belief.” The first offers a painstaking reconstruction of the crime, investigation, and execution. Castillo’s punishment was uniquely brutal: a court martial sentenced him to death according to the “Ley Fuga.” In the presence of...

You do not currently have access to this content.