From Benedicta to Pope Benedict, with love
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Benedicta Alejo Vargas preparing one of her traditional dishes, Uruapan, Mexico

My name is Benedicta Alejo Vargas, I’m from San Lorenzo, in the municipality of Uruapan, and this is my story… My dad was a farmer and my mother used to wait for my dad to return from the field with rabbits, quelites, coal and wood. My mother waited happily to make rabbit stew, or quelites – or to prepare a atápakua, or make a mushroom dish. My grandmother taught me how to cook. I was three when my father died, and my mother started working longer selling pork and animals. I didn´t like it because my mother always prepared meals from pure meat, sometimes atápakua or meat churipo, she loved all of that. My mother was selling barbecued meat often. She would tell me to fetch water. San Lorenzo has a spring, and there I met my husband. He is also called Lorenzo. He stole my heart and I stayed with him ever since. My husband, a farmer, helps me work. I have gone many times to the USA. The first time was scary getting on the plane. Today I go to the USA for work, but I wanted to get to know the place before. I didn´t have any money. When they asked me if I wanted to go I said yes. I always talk to God, I speak with my flowers and trees and my herbs when I go to the hill. I tell my quelites not get mad at me when I cut them because I’m needing to cook, I tell them I cut them to let people try their taste, to see that they are so delicious. I ask them to not be angry with me when I cut them because it helps me move forward with my children. Today I bring you flowers, because I am a cook, and I always have something to distinguish me, because I’m so used to it, I feel like my heart could be a flower. When I get up at five in the morning, I say “Dear God, I am getting up by your great power that you are giving us at this time and this morning, here I give you these eyes, hands, everything that I have is yours. I am nothing, it is all yours, now help me and bless me nothing more than today, not in the evening or tomorrow, only today.” For me it is a blessing of God, and because God never leaves anyone. He sees how our hearts feel, and how it dawns. God sees everything and if there is no money, no one suffers, because God is great, and God gave me the gift to work. He gave me the gift of knowledge. My grandmother taught me 10 or 15 dishes and today I have added more meals, and everything is God, because he never leaves me. He has never let me go without food. It was thanks to Roberto that I was invited to the Vatican to cook. When I met Roberto, Roberto told Cynthia to take me to the Vatican and she said yes. Thank God he thought of Roberto and he had me in mind. When I realized this is where the Pope was, I felt faint and I said to my husband, “Roberto and Cynthia told me that I will go to the Vatican, where is it?” And my husband didn’t know because he doesn´t know much; he also grew up on the hill. There I was sitting in an office in the Vatican, I was with my daughter Elvira, when men arrived with helmets and a swords. They grabbed me, one on each side. Elvira was crying because she wanted to go with me. But they only led me to go up there to greet the Pope with Roberto. Roberto said to the Pope “she’s your namesake, also called Benedicta”. I almost didn´t hear them. I wanted to cry. I felt joy, nervousness, trembling, and with great emotion I felt, as if I no longer had bone strength. I felt well and I blessed the Father and all the rosaries I had. My family works together, we are a chain. I am the pillar of my family, the woman in my home is the most important element, in a community where man is the traditional head of the household. I am a brave Purepecha woman who is moving forward, thanks to God who gives me strength to move forward with my children, doing what I love from my heart.