Faith and a fair in the Montevideo neighborhood of Tres Cruces

by Karin Ledl
In the Tres Cruces neighborhood of Montevideo, Uruguay there is the Church of the Women’s Jail. It is located on a calm street that comes to life and fills with people on the 19th of each month. The people come to see the image of the revered Saint Expedite and to visit a fair that is set up outside this little church.

Saint Expedite at the Church of the Women's Jail in Montevideo, Uruguay (image by K. Ledl)
Saint Expedite
This monthly pilgrimage peaks on April 19th, which is the official day of celebration of Saint Expedite. On this date, hundreds of people come to thank, or to ask favors from, this Roman soldier converted to Christianity in the first century AD. His name says it all: Expedite, the Saint of fair and urgent causes, who provides a prompt answer to those who ask in faith and with a good motive.

In his depiction, Saint Expedite holds a cross in his right hand with the word “Hodie” (Latin for “Today”) inscribed on it. With his right foot, he is crushing a crow with the word “Cras” (Latin for “Tomorrow”) coming from the dying crow’s mouth.

As the day passes, the crowd pushes at the church entrance, and the glass covering the small image of Saint Expedite becomes covered with fingerprints.

Church of the Women's Jail: Left: Line to see Saint Expedite. Right: The fair (images by K. Ledl)

After visiting the Saint, the crowd moves on to visit the fair. Here almost everything can be found: religious art, prayer cards, rosaries, candles with the Saint’s colors; but also freshly harvested honey, herbs to cure all kinds of diseases, hair clips, makeup, books, live plants, and even used clothing and shoes. Each 19th, faith and commerce mingle in a colorful crowd.

Directions: Church of the Women’s Jail, Acevedo Diaz Street on the corner of Miguelete. The Church is open only on the 19th of each month from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. It is located just 2 blocks from the Tres Cruces bus terminal (Montevideo's main bus terminal). The fair is also held on the 19th of each month and is directly in front of the Church.

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