Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987 Page: 48
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La Junta's Devil
What evil lurks in Holy Cross Mountain?
To the Catholic Calendar, the release of the devil not only is
symbolic of Holy Cross Day but also seems related to a more
ancient Mesoamerican tradition of five days of evil, as well as to
beliefs in cave dieties.
by Bob Parvin
e black mountain juts like a
clenched fist against the desert
night. Imperiously, its knuckled silhouette
rises out of the terraced plain where the
Rio Grande and Rio Conchos join under
the faint glow of a quarter moon.
Tonight, as winds moan past the mouth
of his mountainside cave, the devil escapes
from his lair above La Junta, the
river valley where Presidio and Ojinaga,
Mexico, lie cloistered.
Far up the blackened slope of Sierrita
Santa Cruz (Holy Cross Mountain), a
small group of chanting worshippers pick
their way by torchlight. They carry down
the wooden cross that has until now confined
the devil in his feared grotto. It is
now past midnight of April 29, and for
the next four days evil is on the loose at
Doors are kept locked at night. Windows
are barred, shrines are decorated,
and candles are kept burning until dawn.
Finally, during the night of May 3 (Holy
Cross Day), the cross is carried back to its
station on the mountain and the devil is
forced to return to his cave. Torches,
drums, horns, and clanging pots and pans
announce the procession.
The workings of the devil and the
black arts have strongly influenced folk
traditions at La Junta. In 1955, an old
woman accused of witchery was publically
crucified and burned in broad
daylight. It is said that both the Catholic
church and local law enforcement condoned
the execution! Disease epidemics,
droughts, floods, famines, and other catastrophes
that have periodically marred
the history of the area all have been ascribed
to the evil moods of the mountaindwelling
In some local tales, he has appeared as
a venom-spitting spider who dances on a
web spun across the mountain peaks that
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987, periodical, Summer 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45437/m1/48/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.