Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Albert Wuaku

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Iqbal Akhtar

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


San Lazaro, Medical Divination, Santeria, Lukumi, Babaluaiye, Orisha

Date of Defense



This study explored the origins, evolution and influence of the tradition of San Lázaro as it currently pertains to the Cuban-American Santeria community in Miami. The main argument of the study is that in the context of the contemporary religious culture of Santeria in Miami, San Lázaro is a hybrid spirit. Many manifestations of healing entities have come to merge in the person of this spirit. Though practitioners identify with specific manifestations of this spirit, the processes of transmigration have blurred the lines of deep-rooted faiths and created a fusion of meanings from disparate traditions, making San Lázaro an ambivalent personality. San Lázaro’s ambivalence is the very quality that makes him such an important Orisha. As a deity whose personalities demonstrates the combination of a diversity of qualities, including those that contradict each other, San Lázaro is deployed in a very broad range of healing context, making him a versatile Orisha. This study clarified the contrasting qualities this deity embodies and traces the socio-historical context in which the deity acquires the layers of meanings it is currently associated with. Drawing on interviews with Lázaranian worshipers [Lázarenos] in Miami and engaging in Bourdieu’s concept of Habitus, the study provided a window into the nature of the tradition of San Lázaro and how its usage is linked with the African heritage of the worshipers.





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