As a result of the merger of European culture with the religion of Voodoo in Louisiana, a lot of Voodoo spirits became associated with Christian saints. While Voodoo and Catholicism dramatically differ, Christian and Voodoo saints have much in common. Both are patrons of certain aspects of life. Early American Voodoo followers adopted the image of Catholic saints and gave their own spirits the same characteristics.
For example, St. Peter corresponds to Papa Limba. Limba was considered the protector of roads that lead to villages. St. Peter is known as the guardian of the sky and is often depicted with keys to heaven, and his image was later associated with the activities of Papa Limba. On the other hand, some saw similarities between Papa Limba and the devil.
Serpents are the central figure of New Orleans Voodoo. Being know as the Great Zombie Lee, the snake became St. Patrick’s companion. According to the legend, St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland. Many Catholic prayers were accepted without much change in Louisiana’s religion, including the famous Ave Maria and Our Father.
There are a number of obvious parallels between the two religions:
- General belief in one supreme being.
- Spirits of Loa clearly resemble Christian saints.
- General belief in the afterlife.
- Belief in the existence of invisible demons and evil spirits.
- Voodoo followers believe that every person has a soul, consisting of two parts: big guardian angel and small guardian angel. The connection to Christianity is obvious.
A quite common misconception is that Voodoo opposes the principles of the Catholic Church. The similarities between Catholicism and Voodoo is one of the most important factors that kept the African beliefs from extinction, as was the case in other parts of the world. Most of the followers of Voodoo practice Catholicism as well, although Catholics openly dismiss Voodoo and express dissatisfaction with all other forms of spiritualism and belief in spirits.
About Mambo Ava Marie
Ava Marie has spent most of her younger days in Haiti, studying and understanding Vodou from the highest ranks. She has years of experience and has joined forces with us to write and share her insights.