Anima Sola + Marinette
The Anima Sola or Lonely Soul is a Catholic holy image which depicts a person chained in the flames of Purgatory. The subject is nearly always female, though one does see men occasionally, most often in Mexican retablo paintings. Purgatory, itself, the way station on the road to Heaven where sinners must work off their sins before being admitted to the Pearly Gates, is generally depicted as a stone prison with barred doors and iron grates on the window. Sometimes, it is merely rendered as a smoky haze.
Like many holy images, this one is ambiguous...while it appears
to be a very dark image, glorifying suffering and bondage, it is
typically seen as an image of redemption. Purgatory, despite it's
unpleasantness is, after all, a place of purification—where
sinners are allowed to redeem themselves rather than face the final
and permanent fires of Hell. In the traditional images of Anima
Sola, the woman wear a transcendant expression and her chains are
broken, suggestion that perhaps her time of forgiveness and ascension
are at hand. Thus the image is often used to pray for the souls
of the dead, that they might enter Heaven more surely and quickly
with the intervention of the Anima Sola.
But there is also a darker side to the image...one may also request
of Anima Sola that she emprison an enemy in flames of suffering,
or whisk them off to Purgatory.
In Haiti, where Catholic images are frequently used to stand in
for the Vodoun gods (known as Loa) the image of Anima Sola represents
Marinette, the principal female Loa of the Petro rite. Marinette
gained much popularity on the eve of the 200th aniversary of the
Haitian revolution in 2003. In part, this is because Marinette came
from the spirit of the Mambo who conducted the pig sacrifice at
the ceremony at Bwa Caiman in 1884 which kicked off the Haitian
slave revolution and led to the first independent black republic
in the Western Hemisphere. Her current popularity also stems from
a dual nature not unlike that of Anima Sola although, Marinette
is known to be quite bloodthirsty and violent, she is also capable
of interceeding to bring about freedom from bondage or suffering,
a freedom Haiti is desparately trying to reclaim.