Lewis learns about the legend of Gauchito Gil

Do you remember when Lewis was travelling to Bariloche and he noticed that there were lots of roadside shrines in Argentina, decked with red flags? Well, he promised himself that he would investigate to find out more about them but he didn’t imagine that the reason would be half as interesting as it really is!

The reason these roadside memorials adorn the many roadways in Argentina is because of a legendary character, Antonio Gil, or as he became known, Gauchito Gil, (meaning “Little Gaucho Gil”) who was born in the 1840s. Today, he is proclaimed as one of Argentina’s gaucho saints. He became a bit of a Robin Hood character when he deserted the army, became an outlaw and helped the needy.

The legend goes that when a policeman eventually found him in the forest, Gauchito Gil was tortured and hanged him from his feet from a algarrobo tree. When the policeman was about to kill him, Gauchito Gil pleaded with him saying:

“Your son is very ill. If you pray and beg me to save your child, I promise you that he will live. If not, he will die”.

The policeman did not listen to Gauchito Gil and killed him anyway by slitting his throat. That was January 8, 1878.

When the policemen returned to his village, he discovered that his son was in fact very ill, just as Gauchito Gil had predicted. The frightened policeman then prayed to Gauchito Gil to save his son’s life. Afterwards, his son made a miraculous recovery. Legend has it that Gauchito Gil had healed his murderer’s son.

In order to thank Gil for sparing his son’s life, the policeman then gave Gauchito Gil a proper burial and built a tiny shrine by the roadside, telling everybody about the miracle that had taken place. He is remembered especially throughout Argentina now every 8th January.

Lewis the Lion was amazed at how venerated this saint is across Argentina and thought it was interesting that in his own British culture, there is the similar figure of Robin Hood who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (even if he is not a saint).

What Robin Hood stories do you know?

About Helen Molloy

Helen Molloy has been a Primary Learning and Teaching Consultant, leading on the introduction of Primary Languages in the City of Stoke-on-Trent for the past 5 and a half years. She is passionate about language learning and inspiring children into developing a curiosity and awareness of other people's languages and cultures.
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