December 17th is the Feast of San Lazaro. This saint is associated with the Orisha Babalu Aye in the La Regla Lucumi (Santeria) tradition. Michael Atwood Mason on the Smithsonian.com blog writes of this king “in the African-inspired religious tradition known as Santería …, Babalú-Ayé is both feared and beloved. Thought to be responsible for bringing epidemics like smallpox, leprosy and AIDS, Babalú-Ayé also cures these diseases. Oricha elders tell of his exile from his homeland with the Lucumí because he spread smallpox among them…. They tell of his journey to the Arará, who were healed by him and ultimately made him their king.”
Babalu Aye is the God of sickness, of infectious disease, and consequently of healing. His name has been translated as the “king who hurts the world.” Babalu Aye is worshiped under many different names. His name is Sonponno among the Yoruba, and Sakpata or Sagbata among the Fon of West Africa. Some believe his name is so sacred it is not to be spoken.
Babalu Aye performs miracles and transformational healings. This video from Yoruba Andabo tells of this Orisha’s great power.
The Crippled Can Walk
Many turn to San Lazaro (Babalu Aye) when they are in need of serious healing. Devotees frequently make promises so that themselves, or their loved ones will find a cure. Very often these promises involve making pilgrimages and/or offerings to the saint. These pilgrimages can be elaborate, and people walk for miles to honor and give tribute to the saint. Some even make the journey on their knees. Many say they have received great blessings and cures from their devotions and orations to San Lazaro.
Herbs for Babalu Aye / San Lazaro
- Bay Leaves
- Pine Nuts
- Poppy Seed
- Sesame Seeds
You can use these in ritual baths, candles, or herbal mixtures. For more information please see the post Babalu Aye: The King Who Hurts the World. If you enjoy what you read here please remember to share and comment below.