Why Catholics Should Avoid Shopping at Botanicas

A botanica shop in Massachusetts

JJ writes: “I live in a largely Hispanic section of town and there is a botanica shop here that sells a lot of Catholic items such as rosaries and statues along with items associated with Santeria. Is it okay to buy from these shops?”

No, it is not.

In fact, a new book by Jesse Romero, The Devil in the City of Angels, specifically addresses these shops and warns the faithful not to purchase from them because they are supporting the occult.

For those who have never heard of them, botanicas are retail shops that sell items associated with various religions and spiritualities including ritual candles, religious statuary, amulets, spell casting materials, oils and incense along with products associated with folk and alternative medicine.

These shops have names ranging anywhere from All Saints Botanica to Witch Flame Botanica with product lines that run the same gambit. Any town in America that has a sizeable Latino/a population – particularly those with ties to the Caribbean –is like to have a botanica shop of some kind.

As America’s spiritual landscape becomes more and more eclectic, catholic store are proliferating across the country. Alongside First Communion gifts and votive candles to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are “Win the Lottery candles” and “Money Come to Me” soap.

As Romero, a retired veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, explains, the term “botanica” comes from Santeria which is a mixture of Catholicism and polytheistic African beliefs such as magic and consulting spirits of the dead.

“These stores tend to be run by folk healers who have a clientele that they help with a number of personal and spiritual problems,” he writes. “A Catholic should not buy from a botanica. That would be supporting the occult.”

In addition, a Christian should not even go inside one of these shops.

“Well-intentioned folks could very well be exposed to evil by entering and buying authentic Catholic articles from these places. The items sold in the botanicas could be infested or have trace elements of evil attached to these articles. No doubt, evil spirits lurk inside of a botanica” [emphasis in original].

Because there are also on-line botanicas, he suggests that anyone who buys an object through these establishments should have it blessed by a Catholic priest before using.

If you want to buy votive candles, rosaries, holy water bottles, etc. stay safe and buy them from an authentic Catholic shop or source.

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