CHAPTER III. THE CRIOLLO VILLAGE.
In Argentine life the almanac plays an important part; in that each day is dedicated to the commemoration of some saint, and the child born must of necessity be named after the saint on whose day he or she arrives into the world. The first question is, "What name does it bring?" The baby may have chosen to come at a time when the calendar shows an undesirable name, still the parents grumble not, for a saint is a saint, and whatever names they bear must be good. The child is, therefore, christened "Caraciollo," or "John Baptist," when, instead of growing up to be a forerunner of Christ, he or she may, with more likelihood, be a forerunner of the devil. Whatever name a child brings, however, has Mary tacked on to it.
All names serve equally well for male or female children, as a concluding "o" or "a" serves to distinguish the sex. Many men bear the name of Joseph Mary. Numbers, also, both male and female, have been baptized by the name of "Jesus," "Saviour," or "Redeemer." If I were asked the old question, "What's in a name?" I should answer, "Very little," for in South America the most insolent thief will often boast in the appellation of Don Justice, and the lowest girl in the village may be Senorita Celestial. Don Jesus may be found incarcerated for riotous conduct, and I have known Don Saviour throw his unfortunate wife and children down a well; Don Destroyer would have been a more appropriate name for him. Mrs. Angel her husband sometimes finds not such an angel after all, when she puts poison into his mate cup, a not infrequent occurrence. Let none be deceived in thinking that the appellation is any index to a man's character.
Dark, needy people - Rome's true children!
The school-books read: Which is the greatest country? Ans., Spain. Who is the greatest man? Ans., The Pope. Why? Because he is infallible.
It is his wish, and the priest's duty, to keep them in this darkness. Yet, - One came from God, "a light to lighten the Gentiles," and He said, "I am the Light of the world." Some day they may hear of Him and themselves see the Light.
Already the day is breaking, and superstition must prepare to hide itself. The uneducated native no longer pursues the railway train at thundering pace to lasso it because the priest raved against its being built. He even in some cases doubts if it is "an invention of hell," as he was taught.
The educated native, Alberdi, a publicist and an advocate of freedom, in the discussion over religious rights of foreigners in the Argentine, wrote: "Spanish America reduced to Catholicism, with the exclusion of any other cult, represents a solitary and silent convent of monks. The dilemma is fatal, - either Catholics and unpopulated, or populated and prosperous and tolerant in the matter of religion."