Since entering Argentina at the end of July there has hardly been a day when I haven’t seen several shrines dedicated to the mythical, almost cult-like figure of Gauchito Gil, or more commonly known as Gaucho Gil.
The rest of Latin America has shrines in memory of their deceased by the roadside, less so here in Argentina.
In their place it seems are Gaucho Gill places of worship along the highway.
Painted, flagged and decorated always in fire engine red. Many of the shrines have letters written to the man himself, people even leave bottles of wine and cigarettes!
When I first noticed these shrines, I used to joke and ask people if Gaucho Gil was a communist, that usually gave them a big laugh.
The story I am getting from people at the roadside is unlike any of the versions below – I am getting a story of a man – almost like a patron saint for travellers –  just like Saint Christopher, I guess.
Below is some information on the legend of Gaucho Gil courtesy of Wikipedia, sorry about all their links.

Gaucho Gil. Courtesy of Wikepedia

 The Gauchito Gil is a religious figure, object of popular devotion in  Argentina. Its historical background is in the person of the gaucho Antonio Mamerto Gil Núñez, of whom little is known with certainty.
 It is not within the Catholic Liturgy.

Born in Pay Udder, near Mercedes, in the Province of Corrientes, around 1840 and was killed on 8 January 1878 , about 8 km from Mercedes.

The legend

With minor differences, there is more than one version on its history.

 Most widespread version

Antonio Gil was a gaucho worker rural, worshipper of “Death Saint” who had an affair with a wealthy widow. This earned him the hatred of the brothers of the widow and the local police Chief, who had courted the same woman. Given the danger, Gil left the area and enlisted to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) against Paraguay. After his return, he was recruited by the Autonomist party to fight in the civil war correntina the opposition Liberal Party, but it deserted. Since desertion was crime, was caught, hanging from his foot in a tree of “espinillo”, and killed by a cut in the throat. Gil told his executioner that you should pray on behalf of Gil for the life of his son, who was very sick; the executioner did so and her son miraculously healed. He gave Gil body a proper burial, and people who learned about the miracle built a sanctuary, which grew until today.

Take the tradition of wrapping with red flags or paint red the sanctuaries of worship Gauchito Gil, given it is the color that characterizes the autonomist party Of Corrientes Province.


Second version

Another version tells that Gil was an abigeo that congració with the poor. Recruited to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance, he defected and he was pursued. When captured him for the crimes he committed, a Commissioner was about to shoot under a tree, and Gauchito Gil said to him: «do not kill me, we will get the letter of my innocence». The Commissioner replied: ‘ as you will not save», and the Gauchito said: «When the Charter will receive the news that your son is dying because of a disease;» «When llegues reza by me and your son is going to save, because today you will be shedding the blood of an innocent». At that time was believed to be invoking the blood of an innocent miraculous. Arriving at his home in Mercedes, the Commissioner found his sick son, prayed for him on behalf of the Gauchito Gil and his son was healed. The Commissioner returned to where it was the body of Gauchito Gil and given burial.

 Third version

Gauchito Gil headed a group of autonomist thugs who went from village to village plundering, robbing the rich (to give it to the poor) and killing all Liberal who crossed on their way. He was devotee of San La Muerte and said that it was impossible to kill shot. He was captured by a group of men of the Liberal Party and slaughtered close to Mercedes Corrientes.

 Sanctuary and worship

Currently, the shrine built on the site of his tomb (located about 8 km from the city of Mercedes) receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year,[3] [4] especially on 8 January, anniversary of the death of Gil.
The cult of Gauchito Gil has been extended from the Province of Corrientes to the rest of the country, among other province of Chaco, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Mendoza, Buenos Aires province and even in the Federal Capital and Province of Tierra del Fuego.[5] Shrines of Gauchito Gil, characterized by having flags and red ribbons are also shrines throughout urban and rural roads of the Argentina. The faithful of the Gauchito Gil often also are of San La Muerte since its history is strongly linked to this one.

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  1. Ann Says:

    Hi Tony, I hope the legendary Gaucho Gil takes care of you on the road and all of us :) glad to see Nirvana back in action though I’d say she can be hard work to push along!!

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I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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