Jesus on a Tortilla
S1: Hey, this is Josh Levin, the host of One Year. This is the seventh and final episode of our season on 1977, but I’ve got good news. We’re coming back for another season very soon. Stay tuned after this episode to learn what you were doing next and how you can help us out now on with our show. Can you just describe the best you can remember what happened the morning of the Jesus Tortilla?
S2: Oh, this way you no. Yeah, Ampersand
S1: that’s Maria Rubio. On Wednesday, October 5th, 1977, she woke up in her small green stucco house in southeastern New Mexico and started making her husband’s lunch
S2: in La La La La Manana Melbourne thoroughfare.
S3: It was six a.m. I would always get up at 6:00 a.m. and that morning I got up and made about three or four tortillas.
S2: Equiano, your little. But they are
S3: regulated. And when I was fixing the beans and the cheese and equatable
S2: one Leyla Priscilla Comal Segundo,
S3: when I put the food on the second Burrito and when I was getting ready to roll it
S2: and thought it Gustavo Leyla,
S3: that’s when I saw La la Karita the little face
S4: of Jesus not superguy well I wasn’t sure
S2: on a scale of three
S3: and then I felt chills.
S2: It can make you sick that
S3: and I felt like I was going to move a bit because I felt like
S2: just like the weight of middle or not.
S3: I don’t know if it was joy or fear. I’m not sure.
S1: The first person Maria told was her 17 year old daughter, Rosie.
S4: I remember hearing my mom calling me. She was in our little bitty kitchen and she was like, there is something interesting here. There’s like a burn on the Tortilla. Tell me what it looks like to you get the answers to gastroparesis. And so I looked at it and then I’m like, oh, my God, separationists Cristo that looks like the face of Jesus. And she was like, What? That’s what I thought. But I didn’t want to say it out loud because I didn’t want you to think that I was crazy,
S5: that normally I thought the lower middle
S1: Maria’s husband, Eduardo Rubio, had slept through all of this. Now, Maria told him to get up. There was something he needed to see.
S2: You ready Haymon me to look up a sign that Tortilla
S3: and I told them, look what happened in the Tortilla
S2: or Sangla, Élodie Hoylake. And he said, oh, yes, they would be around Lorqess.
S3: Was this wow, you two are crazy.
S5: I was at the emergency room and I said, what’s going on with, you know, the church, the OK, are you guys making jokes or what? Economy job, S.A.C.. And then when I saw it, I felt that it really was something divine.
S1: Rosie Rubio remembers her father’s reaction differently.
S4: Me and my mother were more like, oh, my God, it’s the face of Jesus, you know, really excited. But, you know, with my dad, it was a little bit more negative, more like a bad omen.
S1: Rose’s mother, Maria, was confused about what the apparition meant and what to do about it. But Rosie didn’t have time to talk it out.
S4: I mean, I didn’t think anything of it. I was like, OK, well, this happened not a big deal. And I laughed. And when I returned back from school that afternoon, which would have been about four or five o’clock, there was like so many people standing outside of my parent’s house,
S1: the crowds that swarmed the Rubios house that day, that was only the beginning.
S6: A thousand strangers walk in your house every day to see Jesus and a Tortilla. I don’t think that’s possible. I think it’s just another one of the tourist traps.
S4: I was not skeptical of the existence of God, but I was skeptical about Jesus on a Tortilla.
S1: And when you left, were you still skeptical about Jesus on a Tortilla?
S4: No, I was not at all, no.
S1: On October 5th, 1977, Maria Rubio saw something that knocked her off balance in the years that followed, she’d get besieged by believers and gawkers and the national press. She’d be called a visionary and a fool. The outside world had a lot to say about Maria and what she’d seen. But for the Rubios, the Tortilla wasn’t just a public spectacle. It was the miracle that changed their family. And all these decades later, they’re still reckoning with how it upended their lives.
S4: Was it a blessing or a curse? I mean, I think that’s one thing that we’ll never know.
S1: I’m Josh Levin, and this is one year, 1977, Jesus on a Tortilla.
S2: You’re not in Mexico and no Naggar, he now that Chihuahua, Mexico,
S1: Maria Rubio was born in the Mexican border town of Ojinaga in 1940. Her family moved to the United States when she was 14 years old.
S2: Yesterday afternoon, Yop attended English.
S3: To this day, I haven’t learned English, but there were a lot of problems in the schools to learn English when one came from Mexico.
S2: Gamosa, my
S3: stepson. When we arrived here with only
S2: the EU in
S3: one suitcase, very little clothes.
S2: Those are
S3: more than a couple of pillows, a couple of blankets
S2: and polygamy that in a
S3: pan for the food,
S2: not the animals.
S3: That we didn’t have a car. We didn’t have a house or anything like that. We had a lot of problems.
S1: She met her husband Eduardo in New Mexico on a ranch where they’d both found work cleaning cotton. They got married when she was 17.
S2: Well said.
S3: We thought it was very difficult. I remember that my mother, when I had my first baby girl, my mother would say to me,
S2: Melanie Perkins, no, no, not anymore choice.
S3: Let me take care of her, because I didn’t have a lot of experience that I was very young and that I could
S2: have for the amount, thought
S3: I could kill her or something
S2: and put it on.
S3: And so my little girl was raised by my mother until she passed away when my daughter was five years old.
S1: Maria had her first four children within five years. Rosie is the second oldest, so
S4: we were very poor. We normally lived in houses of the farmers that employed my dad. My mother was a very timid, submissive person. She had Great Depression, and so her depression pretty much dictated her life.
S1: Here’s Rosie’s younger sister, Carina,
S4: to see my mom struggling with her depression and anxiety. I I understood what she was going through, but there was nothing really like you could do at eight years of age. I just knew that I never wanted to be like that.
S1: In those days, Maria’s relationship with Eduardo was on very shaky ground.
S5: Euro Mutemath. I was a heavy drinker. Our drank a lot. We had problems in our marriage weirdness and it’s our Friday and Saturday would arrive and I had to drink.
S4: I remember always being a little nervous during the weekends because I knew that that’s when my dad was going to drink and he was a mean drunk. That was just the way things were. I just figured this is a normal life.
S1: By the fall of 1977, the Rubios had their own home in Lake Arthur, a remote desert town with one store and about 300 people. Maria was 37 years old. She was struggling and she was looking for solace. And so she prayed and she made tortillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
S2: Well, not not knowing what we know.
S3: I don’t have a very good recipe. I always just put the flour, I add salt, I pour powder, I put lard.
S4: And you just have to have the right mixture so that it’s not too hard or too sticky. And my mom was perfect in making the dough to perfection.
S1: Maria prepared the tortillas in a traditional Mexican style on a flat cast-Iron griddle, a Comal.
S4: As you laid the first side, you flip it over as quickly as possible and then you let the second part cook until it burns and you flip it over again to the initial side. And then once that’s burned a little thing, you take it off.
S1: What created the image of Jesus? How did it get there? Was it a burn mark from the Comal Leyla
S2: communicate mother would up it or I mean, what the
S3: Ampersand it was like a burn, but at the same time it was coffee, like the skin of the Tortilla was a little bit raised.
S2: Yeah. When they say formulaically
S3: and that’s where the little face formed.
S1: The burn mark that Maria saw on that Wednesday morning in 1977 resembled a face in profile. That image was about an inch tall and an inch wide. It had stayed dry when other parts of the Tortilla got soaked with green chili. If you look at photos from back then, the likeness is unmistakable. It’s Jesus Christ, complete with a beard and a crown of thorns. After Maria showed the Tortilla to her husband and after Rosie went to school, the Rubios carefully snipped out the face of Jesus, wrapped it in a napkin and went to see their priest,
S4: Father Joyce, Father Joyce Finnegan. He had been our priest there in the church and lagarto for many years. But he was very skeptical. He blessed it for them, but he advised them to keep it very unimportant. It was not a big deal. Yeah, it was nothing.
S1: Maria respected Father Finnegan and she was inclined to believe him. But there were other people at the church and when they saw what Maria was holding, they thought it was a big deal.
S4: The news just spread like wildfire. All of these people had heard about this thing happening. And so they just wanted to come and see it. And I would say that there was maybe between seventy five to one hundred people when I got home. Yeah, it was a little overwhelming.
S1: Six days later, a reporter found a traffic jam in front of the Rubios small green house, cars lined up and down the block on both sides of the street.
S4: Me and my brother and my sisters, we needed to go into the house and people in line pushed us back, you know, telling us you have to go behind the line. We’ve been here for a while and we’re like, OK, but we live here. They were all lining up to come in and the door’s not very wide.
S1: Rose’s sister, Carina, figured out a way to bypass the crowds entirely.
S4: It was just easier to go through the window.
S1: But Maria didn’t think it was her place to turn people away. If someone came to see the Tortilla, she felt it was her duty to share it with them. All those visitors strengthened Maria’s faith. She treated the Tortilla with reverence and care, displaying it in a glass and metal case atop a bunch of cotton balls like it was floating on a cloud. That case sat on the Rubios dining room table surrounded by flowers. By the end of nineteen seventy seven, more than 6000 visitors had signed Maria’s guest books, people streamed in from all over New Mexico, drawn by word of mouth and local news stories.
S4: There was a lot of Latino people liking that was the majority of the people that came to visit the Tortilla. I mean, we related a lot more to the Mexican Catholic people. Those were the people that I remember just coming in with a lot of faith, with a lot of intention.
S1: They prayed for sick relatives and lit votive candles. One visitor said that she was looked down upon because she was poor and Mexican-American. She believed that Jesus had appeared in a poor person’s house to show that people are all the same in God’s eyes. Father Finnegan didn’t appreciate all this hubbub, he worried that his flock was being led astray.
S5: Maybe he said what the priest said to me, there’s more people coming to your house than to church. And I said, and what can I do for the sealskin? And he said, well, tell them not to get to come to church, that this is where God is so scared. And I said, you know what, I can’t Corera. I can’t kick anyone out of my home because they believe in that little piece of Tortilla.
S1: Eduardo and Maria kept their front door unlocked. People showed up at 6:00 a.m., and after midnight, Maria answered all their questions and prayed when they asked her to pray. And when reporters quizzed her on what the operation meant, she spoke with the confidence of a true believer. Maria told the press that the burn mark was a message from God that all human beings should get together and stop fighting among themselves. She volunteered that she’d been planning the separate from Eduardo, but the Tortilla had brought them back together. Maria said that seeing Jesus on a Tortilla had changed her, that she’d been impatient but now was filled with serenity and love. That’s what Maria Rubio was saying publicly, the truth, she says now was a lot more complicated. Some part of her did believe that the Tortilla was a godsend, but that birthmark in the shape of Jesus, it also made her life excruciating.
S2: Lockington about they won’t dharmic or some
S3: people wouldn’t stop doing things,
S2: but nothing terrible wound up.
S3: As soon as someone would come in, someone else would be there and another one. And everybody wanted me to tell them what had happened.
S2: Young people, good either
S3: and others wanted me to hear them. But I would tell them that I didn’t hear
S2: this Yagami, as
S3: I would say to my husband
S2: where it all happened yesterday.
S3: I think I’m going to go crazy because these people, they want me to do a lot of things that I’ve never done.
S1: Maria struggled to eat and sleep, she didn’t want to profit off the Tortilla, so she agonized about how to give away the donations she’d been getting. Some people even accused her of faking the whole thing of painting the image or burning it into the Tortilla with a Madeline. Maria started to wonder if the Tortilla might be coerced or a tool of the devil. Would you speak directly to the Tortilla
S2: or see they have a lot of issues?
S3: Oh, yes. Yes, I spoke directly to and I would ask it if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
S2: Burrito does not have a consistent,
S3: but it never answered me.
S4: She became scared of it, like she would tell me that it was kind of taking a life of its own then.
S2: Now own Madeline Monami.
S3: I was so afraid I had a big fear.
S2: Nobody either like Palacio Soldano for the months or so.
S3: I couldn’t go to church by myself. I couldn’t go to the grocery store by myself.
S2: And I’m like, let’s get out of the like the
S3: churches on the other side of the street of my house,
S2: you know, put the Ampersand and
S3: I couldn’t cross over
S2: Birkitt then. Yeah, they Palacio on Dankworth
S3: because I was so depressed.
S1: Did you ever wish that the Tortilla had. Happen to someone else?
S2: Oh, see, I was just keeping Sabelo about it.
S3: Oh, yes, sometimes I would think, aiyo, why me
S2: and certain parts or
S3: such? I would think so many things
S2: when Gustavo Priscilla
S3: when one is depressed
S3: one feels like one’s going crazy.
S1: Despite the pain the Tortilla caused, Maria wasn’t about to get rid of it. She believed that Jesus had appeared before her and she couldn’t just reject him. Maria continued to welcome visitors into her home in Lake Arthur and his seventy turned into 1978. Those people started coming from further and further away. The Rubios were no longer just dealing with the local sensation. The Jesus on a Tortilla story had gone national.
S4: I was working with Oklahoma Natural Gas downtown Oklahoma City, and I had heard about this Miraculous Tortilla
S1: that Cindy Tate Bajur in 1978, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, wrote about Maria Rubio and her Tortilla. That column ran in Badgers local paper,
S4: I wanted to know if it was real. I just had to go find out and it wasn’t all that far.
S1: It’s around 500 miles from Oklahoma City to Lake Arthur, New Mexico. Badger Road there on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle. It was the summer of 78.
S4: It is boiling hot. It’s dirt radiating it from the road. The cool thing on a motorcycle is when you have a dip in the road and you go down and the little dip, it smells different. Like if there’s a field of grain, it almost smells like it’s toasty, but it smells. You can smell the rain coming. And then there’s long hours where you just desperately bored. And so then you sing songs and we had an intercom system between the helmets. And so I just sang every silly song I could think of that I taught my kids, you know, we man just things like that.
S1: I think you have to sing it. I think it’s the law when you mention it.
S4: OK, here we go. I know a weenie man. He owns a weenie stand. He sells most anything from hot dogs on down. Someday I’ll change his life. I’ll be his weenie wife. Hot dog. I love that weenie man. Hot dog.
S1: When they got to Lake Arthur, no one answered the door at the Rubios little house, but there was a sign out front
S4: and the sign in Spanish said, come on in, the Tortilla is on the right. And it was a little shoebox of a room, that’s where the little pedestal thing with the Tortilla is, I stood there looking at this Tortilla like in amazement, it really does look like the face of Jesus that you see in Sunday school books and Bibles and such. It truly does.
S1: After a few minutes, Maria Rubio walked into the room,
S4: just the most wonderful lady, and she would have talked to me a long time. But it’s all in Spanish and I could not follow her conversation worth a darn. And I regret that I didn’t have a translator there to hear her firsthand story.
S1: How often have you thought about the Tortilla since you took that trip
S4: from time to time? I don’t talk about it very much. I haven’t for this reason. I will not listen to somebody scoff and make fun of it. They weren’t there. They didn’t see it. They know nothing about it. I’m not going to throw something like that in the path of somebody that would just want to stomp on it.
S1: Some people came from the East Coast to see Jesus on a tortilla. Others came from Europe. The first round of media coverage spawned a second round and a third. The AP and UPI wire services both sent reporters to Lake Arthur. There were also pieces in the National Catholic Reporter, the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. As the Tortilla story spread around the nation, so did a new wave of skepticism of
S5: like Mexican food. Yes, a Tortilla like Mexican food.
S4: No, no.
S1: One reporter said the burn mark look less like Christ than a resembled the boxer Leon Spinks. Magician Ricky Jay developed a trick in which he talked about Maria Rubios discovery, then conjured up a gift for someone in the crowd, a Tortilla sered with a happy face.
S5: As silly as this was, the appearance of the face was quite startling. I reached into my case and handed him a bottle of Osaka’s in a tin of refried beans as I escorted him back to the audience saying Have a nice day.
S1: A television segment that aired on Showtime played up the strangeness of the Rubios tale and the oddity of their cuisine.
S5: And it’s become known as the Shrine of the Tortilla.
S3: It’s impossible for an
S4: image of Jesus to appear in a Tortilla.
S1: In the late 1970s, Mexican food wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous in the United States as it is today.
S5: You still have to explain to people what a Tortilla is. I mean, if they know about Tortilla, it’s in a can.
S1: Gustavo Arellano hosts The Times, the daily news podcast for the L.A. Times. He wrote about the Jesus Tortilla and his book, Taco USA How Mexican Food Conquered America.
S5: It was a perfect story for that era’s America, especially as you have the reporters who are probably mostly white and the consumers who are definitely still way consuming mainstream news. It’s perfect Ducharme Mexican woman, Catholic, no less. She says that she saw Jesus on a flower Tortilla in New Mexico, which is a weird state as it is. Oh, my God. Let’s laugh at her and let’s put her into this carnival of freaks.
S1: From the point of view of the white mainstream media, Maria Rubio story was weird news. Ariano never saw it that way.
S5: Tortilla is our Wholefoods. It is a humble, simple food made by one of the most fucked over countries in the world. And that’s saying something. Mexico and still we persist. So of course, Jesus is going to appear on a Tortilla is not going to appear in fucking caviare.
S1: So far as I can tell, the Jesus Tortilla was the first widely reported case of a food based apparition, but visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary more broadly are a hallowed part of Christian tradition.
S5: Virgin of Guadalupe is basically the founding myth of Mexico, of modern day Mexico. So an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared before an Indian, an Aztec named Juan Diego. Juan Diego told the Catholic authorities at the time that he was seeing this virgin, the bishops said, I believe this simple to them, simple. In the end,
S1: this all happened in the year 15 31. The archbishop was swayed ultimately when the Virgin’s image appeared a second time on the inside of one Diego’s cloak. Religious leaders in the 20th century didn’t think Maria Rubio was lying. Exactly. They just weren’t all that impressed by Jesus on a Tortilla. Here’s a local Franciscan priest.
S5: The Virgin of
S3: Guadalupe is of an entirely different order. This image here, and I think it’s just a little bit
S1: Maria Rubios burn mark Jesus wasn’t the only holy vision in America. In the 1970s, a shining cross appeared on a bathroom window in the South Bronx. Jesus’s face showed up on a stop sign in New Orleans and on an altar cloth and shamokin, Pennsylvania. And in the spring of 1975, the head of Christ appeared on an adobe wall. Two hundred and fifty miles north of Lake Arthur in Holleman, New Mexico.
S7: I stand by the hour and look at sometimes try to outline it with a beam of a flashlight. Some people never do to see it. Some stare and stare. And suddenly there are many of the fervently religious people in this area are convinced it is a miracle.
S1: The wall in Haymon became a shrine and a commercial hub with vendors selling posters, cigarettes and hot dogs. But the image faded in a matter of months, and the pilgrims and the hot dog stands disappeared with it. And the Jesus Tortilla that didn’t go away. Year after year, it sat in that glass case on top of a cloud made of cotton, and year after year people pulled off the interstate to see it. By the 1980s, the Tortilla had become Lake Arthur, New Mexico’s version of the world’s largest ball of twine. The difference was this roadside attraction was the Rubios house, Maria had never invited attention or publicity. She just never told anyone, no. That openness made Maria and her family vulnerable to pain, to embarrassment. And to ridicule.
S4: My first recollection is watching an episode of Three’s Company, eating a bowl of ramen noodles and somebody knocking at the door wanting to see the Tortilla and just being really bummed out about it.
S1: That’s Angelica Rubio, the youngest of Maria’s six children. She grew up in the 1980s when the Tortilla was already a part of the Rubio household.
S4: They would always just say, we’re here to see the Jesus Tortilla. And I was like, OK. And then I would share a little bit about, yeah, this is a Tortilla. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I always saw it like I was some tour guide and it was just sort of ruining my life in the sense of it was just interfering with my TV time.
S1: Angelica was born two years after her mother saw Jesus in a burn mark. Maria Rubio said that those two events were connected
S5: to the Rubios though this is more than a little image, it is a miracle. Past middle age, Mrs. Rubio had been told she could never have another child. But shortly after she received her Tortilla, she delivered Angelica.
S4: I mean, I think there’s like a level of, I guess, feeling special. But I also know that so much of my own, like emotional issues have a lot to do with this huge idea of what the Tortilla was.
S1: Growing up, Angelica couldn’t escape the Tortilla or her connection to it.
S4: This one boy that I had the biggest crush on started calling me the Tortilla kid. And when you’re a little kid, you can’t really tell if they’re, like, flirting with you or if they’re just being jerks. And so I think at the time when I was in the fourth grade to have my crush call me the Tortilla kid, I just remember going home and just like crying because that was just like the most disappointing day of my life.
S1: The Tortilla loomed just as large for Angelica older sister, Rosie. But for her, the Tortilla continued presence wasn’t an annoyance, it was a sign,
S4: if you know anything about Tortilla, if you don’t need them after three, four or five days, they start Mobeen. And this never happened. And we had it for years and years and years. To me, that was a very clear indication that this was something big and something special.
S1: Rosie was always close with her mother. She wanted to protect Maria, but also help her share her story.
S4: There was news people coming around with their cameras and and wanting to visit with my mom. And of course, I ended up becoming the spokesperson for her because of her only speaking Spanish. Like with The Donahue Show,
S6: Rosie Rubio joins us with her mother, Maria, we thank you both for being here.
S1: Maria and Rosie had done a lot of interviews, but this one in 1994 was by far the biggest national television in front of a live studio audience. What do you remember about going to New York for Phil Donahue Show?
S2: I now more show me is when
S3: I was very scared when we left. It was the first time I had ever gotten on a plane. And when we left Roswell, I told my daughter I held his hand and I said,
S2: I met William.
S3: Oh, I think I’m going to die now because I felt so bad to go on the airplane.
S4: So we finally made it into New York. And I remember I was so excited and I took her downtown and we had a really nice meal at the restaurant and she loves dessert. And I ordered her apple pie or something. I think she could not eat it. She was so, so nervous. You know, I remember going in people where people can be a little girl.
S6: In New Mexico, there have been thousands and thousands of people visit the home of a family there that saw an image of Jesus in a Tortilla. Here it is. Well, are we not are the people who make these claims not entitled to our respect?
S4: I was holding her hand the entire time that we were sitting on the stage.
S1: She only said, like one thing the whole time.
S6: Yeah. Your mother believe this is a visit? This is Hesus
S4: Capstick. I guess this is what I mean.
S3: Not man. The woman saying
S4: she believes that he came to us to send a message.
S1: What do you remember about the show itself?
S2: Like take on the yackety?
S3: You know, when I said that I thought it was a miracle,
S2: said the Mucho.
S3: The people would laugh Leyla that.
S2: And then they’ll
S3: say they would laugh at me.
S1: It wasn’t just the laughter. Maria and Rosie hadn’t made any money off the Tortilla, but on the Donahue Show they were presented as potential scammer’s.
S8: You have to be very careful before you just believe, because if you give up your caution and your common sense, any charlatan with a pocketful of magic tricks can come in and take your money and sometimes your life.
S6: Rosy, you didn’t go and see this publicity?
S4: No, it was a simple thing between my mother and me within our family.
S1: You looked so calm.
S4: Well, it looks like it didn’t bother me visibly like. But inside I remember just see the
S1: worst of all for Rosie, where the comments from the audience.
S4: I’m not a religious person, I’m sorry to say, but I was visited by an angel when I was younger, but I didn’t go broadcasting it to everybody.
S3: I just wanted to say that although I’m not much for
S4: Tortilla as I am going to keep a close eye on my potato chips, like, why would you say something like that? Like. Did it make you feel good? I think at that moment I just wanted to give her the finger. It’s all I was thinking about.
S1: That was the potato chip woman.
S2: Yeah, you can be happy. Yeah, no, you’re right. You know, Travis and Travis Dusty,
S3: I told my daughter that I no longer wanted to go to an interview like this.
S1: The next year when the Oprah Winfrey Show called Rosie went without her mother. Her second big TV appearance didn’t go much better than the first one. At the beginning of Rosie segment, Oprah said, I just don’t know why Jesus would want to be on a Tortilla and the crowd roared with laughter. Why do you think people. Would laugh at that story. What does that impulse?
S4: Oh, I think it’s just a discomfort reaction, maybe a little bit of fear. I think we talk a lot about, you know, Jesus being in our midst. But I think if Jesus actually appeared to anybody in their life, it would probably scare the crap out of people.
S1: For Angelica, it was painful to watch her family get laughed at, it made her feel angry
S5: and a little bit guilty.
S4: I’ve sort of always known that people exploited my mom’s story, and yet I did very little. I felt like I was sort of an accomplice, just not really like defending her. I think it was mostly like being ashamed of the story itself. I mean, think about it. I mean, just saying my mom is famous for making a Tortilla with the face of Jesus on it.
S1: By the 1990s, Jesus on a Tortilla had become a kind of small scale meme, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain wrote in his journal. I saw Jesus on a Tortilla show, The Simpsons reference to, too.
S5: So I figured I should just try to live right and worship you in my own way. Beholder it’s a do you know if you’ll excuse me, I have to appear in a Tortilla in Mexico
S1: in the years since Maria Rubio saw Jesus on a Tortilla. There have been other sightings just like hers tonight.
S6: All I can say is holy guacamole because someone found a picture of Jesus on a Tortilla. The real miracle here is that guy was just about to chow down a notch or Jesus, but luckily noticed the image of Jesus before biting his head off.
S1: There’s even a feature film, Tortilla Heaven, about Jesus’s image miraculously appearing on a Tortilla in New Mexico. The Rubios weren’t consulted for that movie, which stars George Lopez and incidentally, is extremely bad for
S5: America that resurrected the big Merritt
S1: in Tortilla heaven. Everyone tries to make a buck off the holy image, charging admission fees to see it and selling Tortilla merchandise. That was the popular conception that anyone who saw Jesus on a tortilla surely had impure motives. But for Maria, the Tortilla was always a duty, something she’d been asked to share for reasons she didn’t understand. In 1977, she opened her home to the entire world. But over many years, very gradually, that sense of obligation to the public, it started to go away. The first step was reclaiming the inside of her home by moving the Tortilla outside in the mid 1980s. Maria and her sister built a small chapel for the Tortilla, a copier with glass doors and altar and a candle that always stayed lit. Hanging on the wall were strings adorned with small metal figurines, tiny icons left behind by visitors, many were shaped like body parts, hands and feet in need of healing that Kippie stood on the Rubios front porch for about 10 years. In the 90s, sometime after the Phil Donahue Show, they moved it to the back of the house and eventually they took the carpet down entirely. Do you know the story of how the Tortilla broke?
S4: Yeah, I mean, I heard a number of versions honestly, we we don’t really know my mom. What she says is that she lent it out to one of my nieces. And shortly after that, we discovered that it was broken. I’m hopeful that in the next few years or so, we’ll finally know the story. My niece is always saying, I can’t believe you blame me for this. And I’m like, well, if the shoe fits, but nobody really is actually telling the truth because I think they’re just afraid of what might happen, which is nothing like the Tortilla has a Tortilla like it was bound to break at some point.
S1: The Tortilla broke around 2005, nearly 30 years after Maria saw the face of Jesus in her kitchen. It now sits in pieces in the part with the birthmark has gone missing. Angelica Rubio is a politician, now a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, the last few years she’s been thinking a lot about the Tortilla and what it’s meant
S4: there was already suffering in our family. There was already a lot of mental health issues and alcoholism and and things weren’t always perfect. And so I think for me, as imperfect as it might have been, that somehow the Tortilla had really was sort of this thing that gravitated us all into believing that things could be better. My mom back then was weak. She was sick.
S1: That’s another of Maria Rubios daughters, Aidoo being Amaral’s.
S3: There was times when my dad would be drinking and she just, I think at times just wanted to be done with life. And I think she would have given up hope completely.
S4: To me, it is a miracle.
S1: Yes, Rosie Rubio
S4: there was something that our family needed and at some point we believe that Jesus, God, the higher power had to make an intervention. And that was the intervention for us, that it’s like, come on, people. Yeah, baby, you don’t have a great life, but you have life. And I think over time she she realized, OK, I can’t take care of all the world.
S1: Maria’s daughter, Carina,
S4: I can only say my story and I can only pray for them, but I can’t change what they want me to change. It’s not like there’s magic. Things are going to get better until you you do something about it.
S1: Back in the 1970s, Maria had told reporters that her husband Eduardo, stopped drinking when Jesus showed his face in their home. But that didn’t last
S5: is Gustavo, though I wasn’t there once. Our problem, the problem was quite advanced, you know, with a car dune, you know, s and I couldn’t just quit all at once. Perkasie, Comal billion or Cristo of it, because the way I was living, I was not happy. Conserva, you can laugh at least Piraino I thought I was when I wasn’t.
S4: I remember being 13 and my mom had just had it. She just said, OK, we’re leaving. My dad had gotten drunk again from what I remember and we laughed. We grew up by then and I think we were able to help my mother make some decisions that she probably should have made a long time ago. And I think my dad realized that my mom had the support of her children and so he needed to change Condola her.
S5: Tomorrow, when I stopped drinking Ladyhood the Caucasus, I told Jesus me. I know that I like the rise of alcohol virotherapy, but I’m going to ask you for one condition there. Hoya’s, too. If I leave this present Mielgo Conca your Yenisei work, show me something that I can fill that emptiness. You homeira the fortitude to Contar. And he said, look, you like to sing, let’s hope for both are you’re going to join a church choir and you’re going to sing there every Sunday. You know you don’t need to drink to sing. I was Italian and I thought, OK.
S1: Can you sing a little bit of something that you would sing in the choir?
S5: Uh, democracy here can see the. Coming on, what was the Intrexon to the more Perati by almost total of residents saying your is the as emperor of all them all, if they come to love, let’s say most of you eat your Rushmore’s at the corner.
S1: Eduardo Rubio hasn’t had a drink in more than 30 years. He and Maria have been married for 63 years. Maria is 81 now. She can no longer make tortillas because of arthritis in her hands. What do you think is special about Maria Musker?
S5: Well, certainly one could assume she has a good heart.
S3: She’s definitely a totally different person than she was 40 years ago, but she sometimes she just really has a hard time. I think she just has a lot of anger towards having had to put up with so much. For so long,
S4: my mom, I think, has really overcome a lot, especially with relations, to like mental health, she hasn’t really, in my opinion, sought out the kind of supports that exist. And that she, I think would be I mean, I guess that’s the thing that I think makes her that much stronger, is that for her, it’s it’s it’s trusting in the unseen.
S1: Are you happy that you saw Jesus on the Tortilla
S2: or see me for days?
S3: Oh, yes. I’m very happy
S2: people Comal
S3: by moment. There are moments where I’m happy. And then sometimes I think
S2: you said I
S3: that whether it was true or
S2: discipleship, my soul is
S3: or what happened
S2: and I not
S3: the one always has doubts
S2: here, say. Then I want
S3: to continue and try not to be thinking about the Tortilla was a bad thing for me. I want to continue thinking that it was a good thing.
S2: Could anyone Miraculous Mockery what
S3: you’ll do believe in miracles, because I say God
S2: to me, Gustavo yes. On me
S3: every day is because every day I wake up a beeber
S2: alive and every day
S3: I’m fine being.
S1: Throughout this season, Slate plus members have gotten exclusive access to more episodes of one year on the culture of 1977. On tomorrow’s Slate plus episode, Slate’s Sam Adams and Karen Hunt will focus on the movies of 1977, including Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Saturday Night Fever. And next week, we’ll have one final exclusive episode where you can hear from me and producer Evan Chang about how we made this season. So this is usually the place where I give you a little preview of our next episode, but that was it, we are done with 1977. We hope you enjoyed listening to our first season of one year. And we hope you’ll rate and review the show and tell your friends so even more people will check us out. And please be sure to subscribe to the one year podcast feed wherever you listen, because there’s going to be more one year very soon. Yes, we are doing a second season. It’s going to be all about nineteen ninety five. And we want your help. Send your 1995 memories and story ideas to one year at Slate Dotcom, and we’ve also set up a hotline. Give us a call at two three three four three zero seven seven seven. And tell us what you were up to in 1995 and what you think we should cover in our season. That’s two oh three three four three zero seven seven seven. We’d love to hear from you. One year is produced by me and Devin Chung with Editorial Direction by Lowe and Lou and Gabriel. Ron Madeline Ducharme is one year’s assistant producer. Our mix engineer is Merritt Jacob. The artwork for One Year is by Jim Cook Angelica. Rubio has a blog about her experience growing up with the Jesus Tortilla. You can find it at the Tortilla Kid Dotcom. Marcela Selmo was our Spanish language interpreter. She was also the English language voice of Maria Rubio and Leon Krauser was the voice of Eduardo Rubio. Thank you to John Brandee, Joe Nicol, Amy Avory, Bob Carlson, Josh Mareb Derik, John Lilly, Lubra and Shannara, and special thanks to everyone who helped to make our first season of one year possible. Alicia Montgomery, June. Thomas Jarrett Holt, Derrick Johnson, Natalie Matthews, Sung Park, Katie Raeford HaShas. Alicia Imbursement, Sath Brown, Rachel Ström Chao to Erika Temse, Mona Ducharme, Karen Filmon and Jessica Seidner. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back with our first episode on 1995 very soon. After you saw Jesus, did you look for other things on a Tortilla every day just to see if there would be other images of Seabiscuit?
S3: Oh, yes, sometimes
S2: when I was young, what I
S3: saw in time, I saw a heart and I thought,
S2: no, no. Yes. Yes. Well, no,
S3: we have nothing to hide that I’m not going to say anything anymore.