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South Texas Living

A medalla brings back memories

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Apple Pie and Salsa
October 16, 2013 | 2,516 views | Post a comment

Not long after I wrote about my friend, Rosie, back in April, and how she had sent Henry chiles and had sent me some veils, I received another envelope from her. I opened it and out fell this chain with a religious medal. On one side is the image of Pope Paul VI. When I turned it over, I saw the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Rosie had written a note explaining why she was sending it to me. She said it had been given to her by her brother-in-law, who went to Rome when he was in the Marines. The papacy of Pope Paul VI lasted from 1963-78. Most likely the brother-in-law had served in the Marines during the Vietnam War.

Rosie went on to tell me that the medalla had been blessed, but that she would like for me to get it blessed again because that would make us comadres. It is a tradition in our culture that if you have a religious article blessed, the two parties become comadres. It’s like sponsoring a child. And she told me to keep it. She admitted that it wasn’t gold, by any means. It doesn’t matter to me. I just loved the fact that she was willing to give it to me after having kept it for so many years. I had Father Phil bless it the next time I went to Mass.

What was amazing about this medalla was that it was as if Rosie knew that I have a devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I attend Mass on Tuesday mornings as often as I can because after Mass we have a short devotion to her. I wrote to comadre Rosie and sent her a copy of the prayers. I explained to her why the medalla means so much to me. The inscriptions on both sides are in Latin.

She also sent me a little souvenir card with a picture of Pope Paul VI. It shows some wear and tear but it is still in good condition considering how old it is. It has a greeting in Spanish below the picture, and on the back it is signed “Paulus PP. VI.”

This brought back memories for me. In the summer of 1965 Henry decided to get a color TV. The business was doing well and he felt we could afford it. He wanted it in time to watch the World Series. The TV dealer, A.J. Navarro, brought the set to our house and set about hooking it up. I started feeling very guilty about getting something that we really didn’t need when Mamá was having to do without a water heater. I went to our bedroom and after a while Henry went looking for me. He found me crying. When he asked me what was wrong I told him how I felt and why. He told me I shouldn’t worry about it -- after all, there were others living with her. In time Mamá did get a new water heater, and I didn’t feel so guilty anymore.

And I so enjoyed watching when Pope Paul VI visited New York City in early October. I remember that the altar where he celebrated the outdoor Mass was flanked by beautiful yellow mums. It was such a beautiful sight! Color made all the difference.

And Henry got to watch the World Series in color. And my comadre Rosie and I finally got to meet, at Walmart. We have run into each other two other times. She still writes such interesting letters.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is

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