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Immigrants Flock to See Statue of Beloved Saint

Immigrants are flocking to churches in Southern California to see a wooden statue of a saint cherished by border-crossers who make the perilous journey to the United States. The 4-foot-tall statue of Santo Toribio Romo Gonzalez was flown from the Mexican town of Jalisco, and is making stops in churches in three California counties, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Many immigrants say Romo Gonzalez has appeared to them during difficult moments on their journeys north, with some carrying a photo of the saint in their wallets. Romo Gonzalez was a priest killed during a 1928 religious uprising and was canonized 14 years ago. His statue will be received at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles next Sunday.

In his Mexican hometown Santa Ana de Guadalupe, tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive weekly to pay tribute to the saint's bones, which are kept in a small casket. Locals peddle saint-themed key chains and figurines to tourists and businesses ranging from a pharmacy to an ice cream shop bear his name. Church officials say while beloved to many, Romo Gonzalez, has not been officially recognized as a patron to immigrants.

Image: Members of St. Marcellinus parish carry relic of Saint Toribio Romo Gonzalez, saint of immigrants and border crossers, during procession on first day of Southern California tour of the relic in Commerce
Members of St. Marcellinus parish carry the relic of Saint Toribio Romo Gonzalez, the saint of immigrants and border crossers, during a procession on the first day of a Southern California tour of the relic in Commerce, California July 7, 2014. The relic, an ankle bone from Santo Toribio encased in a small statue, was lent to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by the saint's home chapel in Jalisco, Mexico. JONATHAN ALCORN / Reuters

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-The Associated Press