If you drive through central El Paso, you have probably seen these amazing little altars with statues of the Virgin Mary in them in people's front yards. For the longest time, I remember almost every house in that area of town having them. Recently I've begun taking photos of them because they seem to be disappearing or falling into neglect. It's a shame really because they are gorgeous and such an El Paso thing. I lived in San Diego and Austin for years and never saw anything like these in those cities. Mike says that he didn't see them as often where he grew up in the Rio Grande Valley but there were a few.

FAITH ON DISPLAY
El Paso is a very Catholic town. We have churches all over place and a very active faith community. But putting a santuario, as these little shrines are called, in your front yard is faith on a whole different level. They are usually colorfully painted and surrounded by either fake or real flowers and other objects that the family holds dear to them. I've seen santuarios with candles and other offerings during feast days and of course, during Dia de los Muertos. Most often, the Virgen de Guadalupe is depicted in a statue in the santuarios, but I've seen others with the Crucifix or the Sacred Heart. These are some that I've seen around central El Paso.

1. Mary with roses - This lovely santuario comes with a doggo to protect her. I love the draped roses and when they fade, the family that lives in the home changes them out. I've seen them in every color through the years. I think this is my favorite santuario in the city.

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez
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2. The two Marys - This santuario has two statues of the Virgin, I'm not sure why, but that's the beauty of these shrines. They can be updated or added to and it just shows the devotion to Our Lady.

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez
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3. Terra Cotta Mary - Not all santuarios have a niche to sit in, and some, like this one, are not colorful. This one has a lot of plants around her to keep her company, however.

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez
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4. Mary on a rock altar - This santuario is very elaborate. The entire structure stands about 4 feet tall. The offerings and silk flowers change throughout the year and it is very well tended. I really enjoy driving past this one every day.

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez
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