HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — He’s known as the Catholic saint who watches over immigrants and he continues to bring out the faithful across southern California.

As the immigration battle heats up, the prayers of the faithful are fired up.

Ana Magellan and Jorge Cruz drove to St. Joseph’s Church in Hawthorne to touch the chest of a statue of Santo Toribio, the patron saint of border-crossers and the sick.

“Let’s leave everything to God,” said Cruz.

Hundreds gathered for a special Mass and to touch the statue’s chest, where a bone from the saint was placed. Santo Toribio was killed during a religious uprising in 1928 and canonized 14 years ago. As a border crisis involving the influx of tens of thousands of children from Central America unfolds, the faithful of the southland are flocking to the saint for answers.

“The pastor asked that if have any people asking for visas they usually go to him,” Jacquelyn Ramirez said. “They pray to him before they cross over.”

“He has become the unofficial patron saint of the undocumented,” the Rev. Ed Benioff said. “Many people have prayed to him, and miraculously he has helped them.”

Not everyone came to ask for help. Michele Garcia came to say thank you.

“Thank you for me and my brother being alive,” Garcia said. “Thank you for everything that you’ve done.”

The statue of the patron saint will be back in Hawthorne on Tuesday beginning at 6 a.m. After that it will go onto Riverside County and then Orange County.



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