How many saints do you know who openly welcome copious amounts of alcohol and tobacco? In the village of San Andres Itzapa, Guatemala just a short drive from Antigua is a shrine dedicated to San Simon. Part Catholic saint and part Mayan god his worshippers pray to him for fertility and prosperity.
San Simon also has a reputation for being the patron saint of gamblers and drunks. Devotees leave offerings of alcohol and tobacco (cash is good too) to appease him.
In the village small fires smolder in the courtyard outside a concrete building painted a deep red. Inside a life size wooden figure of San Simon dressed in conquistador fashions sits on top of an altar. Incense and candles burn on tables. If you look closely you can see he is partly covered in plastic. Devotees sometimes spit alcohol and coca-cola on him as a way to ask for his blessings.
San Simon goes by Maximon in other parts of the country. You’ll see small wooden folk art statues of him for sale in Guatemala’s markets.
Maximon, Santiago Atitlan