La Mano Poderosa
is Spanish for "The Powerful Hand," the pierced hand of Our Lord Jesus
Christ which is often seen in Mexican iconography.
Atop each finger is the figure of a member of the extended Holy Family
-- los Cinco Señores, or the
Five Lords: Saint Anne, Christ's Grandmother; Christ's Mother; Christ
Himself; St. Joseph; and St. Joachim, Christ's Grandfather. Christ's
wounded hand and the Holy Family are always-present aspects of La Mano
Poderosa iconography. The figures may be in different orders, they may
sit directly atop the fingers or be positioned on clouds or vines about
the hand, but they're always there.
They're often surrounded by angels, and those angels sometimes bear the
instruments of Christ's Passion. Sheep, symbolic of the Christian, are
sometimes depicted drinking the blood that pours from Christ's wounds,
a lovely illustration of the Eucharist. The sheep are typically seven
in number, likely to symbolize the seven sacraments, the means of grace
which derives from Christ's Blood.
To wit, La Mano Poderosa is a mash-up of devotion to the Holy Family
and devotion to Christ's Wounds.
This New World iconography, which dates back to at least the 18th c.,
can be seen on tin retablos or as sculpture, carved from wood.
It's seen adorning glass votive candles and holy cards as well.
As is, in itself, it's a devotion long cherished by many Central and
South American Catholics. It is not a "top down" devotion, one that
you'll find in Catholic devotionals with imprimaturs; it's a "bottom
up" devotion, a folk tradition, common among the layfolk, with its own novena:
Hand of God,
ponderous and prompt, liberal and benign for those who are deserving of
the intercession of its five Glorious Fingers. JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH,
JOACHIM and ANNE. Whose novena serves to ignite devotion, a devotion to
those five Holy LORDS.
Or, in Spanish:
Dios, ponderosa y pronta, liberal y benigna para los que se valieren de
la intercesión de sus cinco Gloriosos Dedos. JESÚS, MARÍA, JOSÉ,
JOAQUÍN Y ANNA. Cuya novena ofrece para encender la devoción, un devoto
de estos Santísimos cinco SEÑOR.
As practiced, though, this particular devotion is often mixed up with
occultism. In the Spanish speaking world of the Americas, superstition
magick, santeria, and other such practices abound, and such madness
extends to and befouls even Catholic things. St. Jude, among other
Saints, is invoked by drug cartels to defend their causes, as is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Even Santo Niño
de Atocha, the Holy Child -- Christ
Himself -- is called upon for protection by those who deal in narcotics
and kill mercilessly in plying that trade. These cartels have even made
up a "saint" -- "Santa Muerte,"
or Saint Death, in reality a demon
depicted like the Grim Reaper, as a skeleton clad in black robes and
typically holding a scythe. Police often seen shrines to Santa Muerte
and the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe side-by-side when entering the
lairs of narco-terrorists, and seeing the Virgin or some other Saint
tattooed on a gang member's arm doesn't mean it's unlikely you'll see
the satanic Santa Muerta on his other arm. These cartels have made
their way into
the United States, so much so that you can undoubtedly very easily find
votive candles depicting Santa Muerte at your local grocery store if
you live in the U.S. Know what Santa Muerte looks like, and avoid it:
The point: because it's a fact that if you see objects for devotion to La Mano Poderosa, you're possibly
(but not necessarily) looking
at something being sold or used for occult purposes, be exceedingly
careful with this devotion and how you acquire any religious objects
related to it. Occult shops very often sell items with this image on
them along with items depicting "Santa Muerte" and the Blessed Virgin and Saints
for people to use
for nefarious purposes. Don't support them -- and know, too, that
objects can be cursed in the same way that other objects can be
blessed. Be mindful, and use discretion.