Today is Gauchito Gil day. Did you ever wonder who or what those red ribbons at the side of the roads are for? Well, they are places to worship this saint, to ask him for favours and to let him know what you will do in return. Although he is considered a saint, he isn’t recognised as one by the catholic church, but that doesn’t have any influence on his popularity here in Argentina.
Gauchito Gil was a real person. There are several legends about his live. Some parts are facts and others are uncertain and, made up? This is one version :
Once upon a time there was a gaucho called Antonio Mamerto Gil Nuñez, who had a love affair with a wealthy widow who was engaged to a policeman. When her brothers found out, they accused him of theft and wanted to kill him. He ran off and joined the army to fight the Paraguayans. After the war he went back to his town as a hero, but still he wasn’t wanted, and was forced to go back into the army to fight in the civil war, against his own people. But he was tired of fighting and he deserted, and thus became an outlaw and had the reputation of being some kind of Robin Hood, helping the people in need. When the police finally caught him they hung him upside down in a tree, and just before they cut his throat, Gil told the police agent that his son was seriously ill, and that if he would pray for him, he would cure the child and it would live.
When the police officer arrived home he found his child seriously ill. He got scared and started praying for gaucho Gil, and his son recovered.
This was on January 8, 1878. Since that day it became popular to pray for Gauchito Gill to cure one of your beloved ones. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of little chapels or praying places alongside the roads. Some big, some small. Easy recognisable at the red ribbons. But the main chapel is in Mercedes, Corrientes. Where every year thousands of people go to pray.
Here is one of the prayers for Gauchito Gil :
OH! Gauchito Gil
Te pido humildemente
Se cumpla por intermedio
Ante Dios, el milagro que te pido:
Y te prometo que cumpliré
Mi promesa y ante Dios
Te haré ver,
Y te brindaré mi fiel agradecimiento
Y demostración de Fe
En Dios y en vos Gauchito Gil