The cross of Caravaca is a double-cross-barred crucifx on which the figure of Jesus is flanked by two winged angels who kneel in postures of prayer. The arms of the saviour are nailed to the upper cross-bar, and the supplementary cross-bar projects widely to the sides. The original of this cross appeared miraculously in the Spanish town of Caravaca during the 14th century. It is said to contain a fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Caravaca is known to archaeologists as the site of one of the oldest settlements in Spain, to occultists as a former stronghold of the mysterious Knights Templar, and to historians as a military fortress occupied during the struggle to oust the Moors and re-establish Christiantity in Spain.
In Mexico, the cross of Caravaca has been a popular religious amulet since colonial times. Some say that a copy of the original was the first Christian cross brought to Mexico, others tell me that the copy was brought to Mexico by Fr. Junipero Serra and carried by him as he travelled through Mexico and California. In either case, the cross of Caravaca is a major element in Mexican and Mexican-American religious folklore, where it is widely believed to have special powers to grant wishes and prayers.
The use of the cross of Caravaca for wish-fulfillment dates back at least to the the early 19th century. Documentation of a novena to San Roque, protector from fevers and epidemic diseases, notes that the pamphlet, published in Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1833, was illustrated with an image of this cross. (Full details can be found online under the title Diseases, Novenas, and Patron Saints in Nineteenth Century Zacatecas, by Alicia Bazarte Martinez, Instituto Politecnico Nacional.)
The cross of Caravaca commonly appears on the Mexican house and business charm known as El Secreto de la Virtuosa Herradura, where it is represented by a piece of gold-toned embossed paper pasted to a red cross-shaped paper, in turn pasted to a wooden cross positioned within an actual, used horseshoe which has been wrapped in red thread. The specific wish this amulet grants is financial success.
Stripped of its Catholic connotations, this same cross of Caravaca is often found in African-American hoodoo supply stores under the name "Wishing Cross." It is carried to ensure that a wish comes true, and is sometimes used in connection with herbal wish-fulmillment charms such as mojo wishing beans and Job's tears seeds.
The cross of Caravaca amulet shown here is made of gold-washed pot-metal and is 1" long, the size of a typical Mexian milagro. It is a variant of the original in that the upper cross-bar is embossed with the word "Caravaca," displacing the arms of Jesus to the lower cross-bar. This casting can also be found in the belly of the translucent plastic Mexican Buddha Preganant with a Cross, where it is accompanied by grains of rice and toxic abrus precatorius seeds. Similar cross of Caravaca charms from Mexico come in two sizes, 1" and 3" -- and on the larger one can be seen the embossed word "Caravaca" as well as images of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael with his upraised sword.
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