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The Last Trio: Holy Week San Miguel
The Last Trio: Holy Week San Miguel

by Joseph Toone

Throughout Holy Week you’ll see Jesus crucified alongside two other lads with important cameo roles in Christian history.  This trio might very well remind us of the great importance of getting along with your neighbors.

One these final neighbors of Jesus is Gestas, the bad thief who poked fun at Jesus.  He’s easy to spot in sculptures here in San Miguel de Allende as the lad with a scary face.  Legend has it the more unattractive Gestases in town were modeled after a local butcher.  Hopefully his meat presented better than his face.

The other member of the trio is Dimas.  In English his name is “Dismas,” which unfortunately sounds much like “dismiss.”  In Spanish he is “Dimas,” which sounds very much like “tell me more.”  Actually, his name comes from the Greek for sunset, or death.

Dimas was the good, penitent thief who was nice to Jesus.  In return Jesus promises to see him in Heaven, making Dimas the first saint.  Dimas is the only person confirmed, by Jesus himself, to be a saint.

In case you are confused which is Dimas and which is Gestas simply look at the foot pad beneath Jesus’ toes.  The side towards Dimas points up (indicating his ascent to Heaven) while Gestas’ side points down for... well, you know.

This guaranteed sainthood opens up a Pandora’s box of philosophical issues.  Namely there is zero indication Dimas was baptized, or even Christian.  So how does an unbaptized lad go straight to Paradise?  Maybe through the power of baptism by intent, that is, if he could have, he would have.

Dimas’ baptism by intent is how my Jewish brother-in-law received a Catholic funeral and burial.  Had cancer not unexpectedly hastened his death, he could’ve, would’ve been baptized.  Thanks to St. Dimas, in my family there was much comfort for the living in the early stages of mourning.

Since Easter’s date changes yearly according to the lunar cycle, St. Dimas’ feast day falls in or around Holy Week on March 25th.  St. Dimas is the patron of prisoners, particularly the condemned.   The Tuesday before Holy Week is dedicated to prisoners, remembering when Dimas and Jesus were in prison awaiting Crucifixion.  To celebrate the clergy from Santa Escuela (the church next to the Parroquia) prepared food especially for the prisoners in San Miguel’s jail.  Then church members, friends and family of the prisoners would bring the image of Jesus behind bars and the food to the prison.  Today, due to security, only a priest and one other person are allowed into the prison to visit this day.

In San Miguel St. Dimas’ namesake street leads uphill to the Chapel of Calvary, named for the hill he, and the other two guys, were crucified upon. 

When walking through town between his two daughters, my pal often quipped, “Once again, I am stuck between Dimas and Gestas.” His daughters were understandably less concerned with their father's indicating that he was Jesus than they were with wondering which one of them was Dimas and which Gestas.

*****

Temples and Tombs with Toone, Touring Semana Santa
Tuesday-Sunday, April 11-15, various times

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Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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