Juan Soldado Patron of Migrants

John Soldier

Juan Soldado is considered a saint by popular tradition. He is venerated in the northwestern region of Mexico and the southwestern United States, although not recognized by the Catholic Church. He is worshiped as the Saint of Migrants, patron of the desperate and of all those who wish to cross borders. His devotees entrust themselves to his help in order to reach their destinations.

Who is Juan Soldado?

Who is Juan Soldado?

This is Juan Castillo Morales. A man who was born in Mexico, in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, on September 7, 1914, and died in Tijuana, Baja California, on February 17, 1938. He is popularly known for being nicknamed "Juan Soldado", due to to the fact that he was a soldier, who was part of the Mexican Army, and who died under a Ley de Fuga sentence, being executed in the Tijuana, Baja California cemetery, after pleading guilty, for the crimes of rape and homicide of the girl Olga Camacho Martinez.

Story of Juan Soldado

The events that give rise to the death of Juan Castillo Morales began on Sunday, February 13, 1938, when the eight-year-old girl, Olga Camacho, was ordered by her mother to do some shopping at the store, to prepare dinner. But Olga would never return to her home, after seventeen hours of intense search her little body was found disfigured and outraged in an abandoned garage.

At the same time as this event, during the hours in which the girl was missing, private Juan Castillo Morales received an order from one of his superiors to have his blood-stained uniform washed. After completing the assignment, Juan went to his house, where he arrived with his uniform also covered in blood, which is why he asked his wife to clean it.

This fact was one of the main reasons why Juan Castillo was accused of what happened to the Camacho girl. It should be noted that there was no trial and no in-depth investigations. From the moment Juan was accused of being responsible for that horrible event, he became the object of collective hatred that had been condensing for months in the city for political and social reasons, and was sentenced to be assassinated by his own comrades in arms. .

He himself would plead guilty after hours of interrogation, in which there was only circumstantial evidence against him, until a woman who claimed to be his common-law wife appeared, alleging that on the very day Olga Camacho disappeared, Juan Castillo Morales , showed up at his house with his blood-stained clothes, took them off and asked him to wash them.

In addition, he brought the clothing whose fibers matched those collected from the nails of the murdered girl. After this, Juan Castillo Morales ended up accepting her participation in the act, recounting according to witnesses that after the girl left the store she hit him on the head with a stone, which is why she began to bleed; he immediately took her to the stables that remained in the back area of ​​the military barracks where he raped her, then killed her. Finally, he took her to her garage where he slashed her throat with a piece of glass.​

His statement was leaked and the population demanded that they allow him to lynch him, giving rise to protests that ended in riots, with the police headquarters and the city government office being set on fire. In fact, there were a large number of arrests for the revolt.

The local police disregarded the case, alleging that since it was a military man, it was up to the military institution to handle the corresponding legal proceedings. Therefore, the commander of the military plaza, General Contreras, was in charge of leading the proceedings once the evidence collected by the local police and by the personnel of the US FBI investigation department, which was just in its infancy, was presented. by Agent William Menke.

A summary military trial was held against Juan Castillo Morales and due to the seriousness of the facts and his imminent confession, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by the military court. The escape law was the figure that was used to execute him for committing the crimes.

This sentence consisted of a type of unofficial and illegal execution that was very common in Mexico during the Porfirian regime and the time of the Mexican Revolution. It consisted of pretending an escape attempt by a detainee to allege that, given the situation, the person in custody had been fatally injured.

The difference in Juan's case was that, instead of taking him to a reserved and discreet place, he was executed in the city cemetery, a place to which he was transferred and on a hill he was ordered to run for his lifetime.

Previously, two groups of seven men armed with rifles and led by an officer were stationed at the bottom of the slope. Usually, a single group would be used for the execution, but they did not want to run the risk of Juan Castillo Morales surviving.

Juan was not sure that he would follow the order he had received, escaping meant the end of his life, even so, he tried, jumping between tombs and barbed wire that bordered the cemetery, he received several bursts of shots, from which he managed to get up barely, being hit by more shots that eventually left him lying face down on the ground, until a third burst of bullets took his last breath of life.

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Legend of Juan Soldado

Legend of Juan Soldado

Only months after the death of private Juan Castillo Morales, testimonies alleging that they had received his miracles began to circulate, becoming identified as: Juan Soldado.

His new devotees claimed that Juan was a martyr in his history, since he had been falsely accused, so it was possible to get his help on a spiritual level, being an intercessor in usually desperate cases, related to health problems, family or when it was needed. help beyond the earthly to be able to cross the border by undocumented Mexican immigrants.

This divergent interpretation of the events related to Juan Castillo Morales occurs due to certain factors that allowed the veracity of the events to be questioned, giving rise to the legend of Juan Soldado.

His followers are based on the fact that the context greatly damaged the investigation of the facts. At the time, Lázaro Cárdenas was serving as president of Mexico, starting a war against casinos that, especially in Tijuana, had more impact than in other parts of the country.

Coincidentally or not, the child murder victim was the daughter of one of the main union leaders in casino activities. For this reason, it was believed that there was a political motive behind the crime, with the purpose of intimidating these anti-government leaders, where Juan, being a private soldier, would be forced to blame himself due to pressure from the captain in command of the military garrison. Indeed, the woman who claimed to be the wife of Juan Soldado was only seen on that occasion and then disappeared without a trace.

Another fact that draws attention is that the execution was publicly scheduled, despite the fact that those acts were illegal; however, they were carried out with total impunity. In addition, scheduled in the morning hours so that the press could disseminate what happened more effectively.

In Chile

Coincidentally, in Chilean popular culture there is knowledge of a spirit called Juan Soldado. Legend has it that he is a handsome man of humble origin, whose first name was Juan. It is believed that he was originally from the town of La Serena, located in the vicinity of the city of Coquimbo, in the province of Elqui.

This character fell madly in love with the daughter of a rich and powerful cacique in the area who, due to his social class, was completely opposed to that relationship. However, Juan and his beloved dared to defy his father, organizing a secret wedding. The day they were going to get married, the father of the bride marched in the direction of the town of La Serena, swearing that he would kill them both as soon as he found them and, furthermore, he would destroy the entire town.

Just at the moment when the wealthy man took his oath, in an inexplicable way the town and its inhabitants disappeared, without the man being able to find them and fulfill his objective.

There is another version of the story of Juan Soldado that tells of the existence of a man named Juan Díaz, who claimed to have been a soldier of Don Juan José de Austria (bastard son of Don Felipe IV with the actress María Inés Calderón, known as: la Calderona). One day, two wealthy men mocked the story of him and his poverty, and it is believed that in retaliation he killed them and then escaped. After several months the inert body of Juan appeared on a hill in the town wrapped in ecclesiastical habits. It is estimated that this was the way in which the ex-soldier redeemed his sentence.

In Spain

Similarly, there is a legend that names a spirit as Juan Soldado in Spain. This time it refers to a man who actually served the king for 24 years, and after that time he was fired. To compensate for his time in service, he was given a pound of bread and six maravedis.

Despite receiving very little, Juan Soldado shared what he had with two men who crossed his path. Legend says that those strangers were Jesus and Saint Peter. Faced with this act of generosity, Jesus and Peter told John that they would give him whatever he wanted as long as he placed the reward in his backpack.

Then, Juan used the phrase "al morral" to get his wishes. Later, he made a pact with the specter of a rich man, who would inherit his fortune. This upset the Church and Lucifer, because he couldn't reach John's soul.

For this reason, Lucifer tried to catch Juan Soldado, remaining prisoner in the backpack, thanks to the fact that to get out of that mess Juan used his phrase "to the backpack". Taking advantage of his position, Juan Soldado hit him and, therefore, the forces of evil decided that he would never enter hell.

When the hour of his death came, Juan Soldado tried to enter heaven. But, Saint Peter, he knew that he had made a pact with a ghost to obtain his fortune and refused him entry. As far as Juan, he used his phrase "to the backpack" trapping San Pedro in his bag, until he guaranteed that he would allow him to enter.

Image by Juan Soldado

Image by Juan Soldado

When describing the image of Juan Soldado, it is necessary to clarify in the first instance that the image that is usually venerated in his mausoleum does not match the photograph with which his identity is documented.

In the popular image that is used for his cult, you can see a young man dressed in military clothing corresponding to his time, who is located next to a table where a cross rests on which the crucified Christ lies. This makes Juan Soldado indirectly associated with Christianity, and his beliefs.

Actually, the original face of Juan Castillo Morales is a totally different one. This happens because the iconography of Juan Soldado is an idealized representation of the character revered by the community. On some occasions he is presented in the uniform of a private and on others, wearing officer's insignia.


Tomb of Juan Soldado

We must remember that Juan Castillo Morales was executed in front of more than a thousand people. This had an effect on society that was not used to witnessing this type of event first hand. In addition to this, the reality of the context in which the time passed, given the social and political discontent of the city, its cult originates, under an atmosphere of distrust of the institutions and their actions.

That is why the followers of Juan Soldado maintain that he was only a martyr to corruption and the political interests of the moment, just as many have been throughout history, which, according to their perspectives, empowers him to spiritually help others who find themselves in equally desperate circumstances.

Currently, in the old Puerta Blanca cemetery there are two chapels in the name of Juan Soldado. It is believed that the first chapel is where the remains of Juan are buried; in the second, he only pays tribute. However, both are places of worship where devotees of the spirit of Juan Soldado come to ask for his help to enter the United States, or also some who are dedicated to human trafficking at the border.

In these places of the cemetery you can see a large number of ex-votos and letters of gratitude for favors or miracles received, as well as tombstones, candles, photographs of those who ask for your help to migrate, among many other gifts.

Prayer to Juan Soldado

Prayer to Juan Soldado

«Glory to the Father, glory to the Son and glory to the Holy Spirit, three divine persons, one God and one pure and true essence. Oh Divine Providence! Infinite and merciful love that does not go extinct, supreme power that accompanies us with its grace, filling us with countless miracles and indulgences to us, your children, as well as to our dear brother and guardian Juan Castillo Morales, redeemed by the blood of Christ.

In the name of Almighty God, for your immense charity Father, I invoke the spirit of Juan Soldado, hoping to count on your incalculable benevolence, because my motives are desperate and my cause is urgent, that is why I cry out for your grace Our Lord.

Oh Juan Soldier! It is true that my heart overflows with faith in your soul, that is why I dare to implore your urgent help. To your hard-working hands, martyrs and dedicated to the help of your most needy brothers, today I entrust my cause, because, with all due respect, I come to trust you with all the worries that currently overwhelm and torment me, both spiritually and physically.

Dear Juan Soldado, I beg you not to abandon my cause, because the hope I have is placed in your firm intercession before Almighty God, because you are a good messenger of your devotees, and you are fervently committed to solving the unfortunate situations that we are going through in this life full of tribulation.

Observe carefully Juan Soldado, how noble are my wishes. You know very well the wickedness and bad intentions hidden in human beings, because you were a victim of the trap and defamation. You can clearly see that there is no darkness in my heart, just a need to reach my goal (make a request).

Even so, I leave it to your judgment and above all to that of God the Father, if my desires are appropriate, and being appropriate to the dignity and glory of God Our Lord and to yours in particular, then, let my imploration be materialized.

I trust that you will realize, you my respected brother Juan Soldado, that my claims are devoid of capricious intentions and far from all kinds of evil, what I humbly and respectfully await is to be able to reach your merciful support to appease the unfortunate situation that No matter how hard I try, I can't solve it.

Brother, friend, dear Juan Soldado, today I insistently beg you not to abandon my prayers, I ask you not to neglect me, because your protection is a support that gives me encouragement in this complicated trial of life.

In peace and calm I give you my trust and faith, because I surrender myself to your pious disposition, and to your diligent intercession before God. Counting on your help from now on, I promise to keep being one of your countless devotees, making your name known wherever I am, and praising your virtues adorned by the grace of the Lord.

We thank God today and forever and ever, for allowing the souls of his children to assist us in the face of tribulation. Amen".

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