Holy Infant of Atocha or Santo Niño de Atocha is a Roman Catholic image of the Christ Child popular among the Hispanic cultures of Spain, Latin America and the southwestern United States.
The Child of Atocha is the patron saint of those unjustly imprisoned, protector of travelers, and rescuer of those in peril.
The Infant of Atocha first manifested in Atocha, Spain when the Islamic Moors were holding many Christians captive.
The imprisoned Christians were held without adequate food and water, and a small child began to appear with provisions of food and water to distribute to the captives.
This Child of Atocha was seen as an answer to the desperate prayers of the faithful for the preservation of their beloved friends and family in prison.
A child appeared wearing pilgrim’s clothing and carrying a basket of food and a gourd of water.
After the child gave food and water to the prisoners, his basket and gourd miraculously remained full.
He is depicted seated and wears a cape and a brimmed hat with a plume, and holds a staff with a gourd in his left hand and a basket of flowers or bread in his right.
Call on him for help with court and legal matters; cases of false imprisonment, abduction and kidnapping and to succor those who are in jail.
Some devotees also petition Him for protection against rape and for the safety during travel.
In Cuban Santeria, the Infant of Atocha is associated with the orisha Eleggua and hence with the Seven African Powers.
Depicted as a seated child who holds the basket and staff of a pilgrim and wearing the sea shell emblem of one who has undertaken a journey to the Holy Land, the Infant of Atocha is usually shown wearing a hat and robes such as would have been common in medieval Spain.
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