Interesting: Did you know that there is a philandering, liquor-swilling, and chain-smoking Guatemalan Saint of Vice?

“Oh powerful Maximón, help me with all of my actions and with any dangers that may arise that I may need assistance. If I need help in matters of love, you will draw the one I love closer to me. If it be business, that I will be successful. If it be enemies, that you will help me to overcome them, and to keep hidden troubles away from me. I offer you your cigar, your liquor, your tortilla, and your candles – if in return, you keep me safe from any danger I may come across.

Prayer to Maximón

Yep – you heard it right, there is a revered saint in traditional Guatemalan folklore who loves nothing more than sitting in his chair smoking and drinking! Read on to learn all about him!

Maximón is thought to be the result of religious syncretism – the incorporation of various and diverse belief structures into a new single system. Believed to be an amalgamation of historical, legendary, and biblical figures – the first written records of Maximón appear around the Spanish conquest of the Maya. Some say he takes influences from Judas Iscariot, Saint Peter, and the infamous conquistador – Pedro de Alvarado.

During my travels in Guatemala, I first became aware of the cult of Maximón while frequenting bars, restaurants, and cafes, and noticing little effigies and shrines dedicated to this curious character. Sure enough, as per the prayer, the little carved likenesses would be adorned with a fresh cigarette or cigar, a little shot of Aguardiente (Guatemalan moonshine!) and a lit candle. In my latter research, I found out that often he is given corn and/or corn tortillas too – corn of course being a staple in the region and revered almost to the point of divinity.

His appearance varies by region, in some locales he is depicted wearing a straw hat and sunglasses, while in others he is shown to be wearing brightly-coloured garlands. Either way – it seems he presents himself well!

I love learning about all the little colourful details that shape people’s lives around the world; whether it be the little offerings on the roadsides in Bali, (see below) or the womanising drunk that is Maximón, the world is a fascinating place!

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