The story of a popular religious celebration , a "liturgy of the streets," the annual fiesta
of St. James the Apostle in LoD'iza Aldea, Puerto Rico. It is also the story of how three cultures joined by a history of conquest and slavery—the Hispanic, African, and Arawak Indian—provide the fiesta
with its unique configuration of symbols and meaning. Zaragoza describes the history of the celebration and the fiesta
itself in rich detail, amply illustrating the text with photographs.
Through a close study of the rituals and symbols of the celebration, he shows how the religious processions honoring St. James reveal two views of life. The statues of the saint imagine life to be like him, faithful and triumphant. The four ritual clowns which accompany the statues, the Spanish Gentleman, the Moor, the Old Man, and the Crazy Woman, show that life is not always victorious but more often ambiguous and ironic. However, at the close of the fiesta
, the dominant image of St. James as the conquering hero remains.