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Maximon, Guatemala's Evil Saint

Known as Guatemala’s evil saint, Maximon is thought to blend parts of a pre-Spanish Mayan god known as Maam, a god of the underworld, with the Christian Saint Simon. The name “Maximon,” pronounced “mah-SHEE-mon” is a combination of “Maam” and “Simon”.  

No trip to Guatemala could possibly be complete without a visit to see Maximon! Make sure to find him if you are studying abroad in Antigua, especially if you take a trip to Lake Atitlan, as he can be found in several towns that flank the lake. Maximon’s feast falls at the beginning of the fertile rainy season, as he is primarily known as a bringer of fertility and rain. The rest of the year, he is guarded from public view by his caretakers, and is also known as the saint of gambling and drunkenness. He is thought to bring wealth and success to his followers.

Locals take Maximon very seriously and visit with gifts of money, rum, and cigars or cigarettes. He is always flanked by his caretakers who keep his cigar lit and help you share the rum with him. The ashes of his cigar are carefully scraped off and later sold as a cure for influenza. Tourists are allowed to pay their respects to Maximon, but he can be difficult to find as he moves to a new house every year. It is considered a great honor to be chosen as the new home of Maximon. Another note to tourists is that Maximon has set visiting hours and is given a significant time to “sleep” every day. Visitors that try to bribe their way in to see him during his sleeping time must beware if they wake the evil spirit! The wrath of Maximon is not to be taken lightly.  

Candles may be purchased at the site and offered to Maximon as a way to improve health, fall in love, or even put a curse on somebody. Maximon is a symbol of abundance, usually represented as a wealthy man, he is often dressed in a large black felt hat, coat, silk scarf, and leather shoes. Sometimes he wears sunglasses and an ammo belt. During Easter celebrations in Santiago Atitlan, Maximon’s body is washed in the lake, then dressed and moved to a chapel in the plaza. On Good Friday, a figure of Christ is paraded through the plaza and tied to the cross. When Christ is cut down, Maximon is brought out to confront the Christ figure. This ritual is thought to show the mixing of the indigenous beliefs with the Catholic religion brought to the New World by the Spanish.  



By: AmeriSpan Staff

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