One Didn’t Exist, Another Was a Fraud. They Are Brazilian Saints Anyway

    Saint Anastácia

    Saint AnastáciaThey were not canonized. They are controversial. There is even doubt if some of them really existed. Nevertheless, Brazilian popular saints generate deep devotion, pilgrimages and flourishing commerce.

    Take, for example, Escrava Anastácia. This beautiful slave of blue eyes, that supposedly lived in the 18th century, was obliged by her master to wear a mask covering her mouth, because she refused to, you know, accept his sweet love.

    Apparently, this device was commonly used in the gold mines, so the slaves wouldn’t ingest (and steal) the metal. There is almost no evidence that Anastácia really existed, but she is still considered a big miracle worker.

    Another powerful popular saint is Padre (Father) Cícero, a priest, landowner and conservative political leader of Juazeiro, in the Northeastern state of Ceará.

    Also known as Padim Ciço, he was excommunicated in the late 19th century by the local bishop after a series of supposed miracles that his superior considered a fraud: the host offered by Cícero would systematically turn into blood when ingested by one of the priest’s followers.

    Later his excommunication was invalidated by the Vatican but he was never allowed to return to his parish. His popularity never diminished, though. He amassed a huge fortune, including 34 rural properties, and became the state’s lieutenant-governor.

    Today, most families from that region christen their boys with his name and crowds of pilgrims visit Cícero’s 17-meter (56-foot) statue in Juazeiro.

    Most of Juazeiro’s economy is based on his cult. You can buy hundreds of products that carry his name, such as Pomada Padre Cícero, a cream that is supposed to cure from rheumatism to acne.

    If Anastácia is a favorite of the  black community, and Cícero’s cult is stronger among nordestinos (Northeasterns), Antoninho da Rocha Marmo, who died of tuberculosis in 1930 at the age of 12, is biggest among São Paulo’s high society.

    Very religious, he was known for celebrating mini-masses at his home’s backyard and for his ability to forecast the future, his own death included.

    How can we explain this predilection for unofficial saints? Maybe it is because there are so few Brazilian saints – Frei Galvão is the only one born in the country. Madre Paulina lived all her life in Santa Catarina, but was born in Italy.

    And the almost forgotten Saint Roque Gonzales, Saint Afonso Rodrigues and Saint Juan del Castillo, killed in the 17th century by Guarani natives who they were trying to convert, were also foreigners.

    Maybe it is because most Brazilians cannot relate to  mainstream saints, mostly white and from a very distant past. Or maybe it is just a form of rebellion against established religion.

    Brazilian born, French citizen, married to an American, Regina Scharf is the ultimate globetrotter. She graduated in Biology and Journalism from USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and has worked for Folha de S. Paulo, Gazeta Mercantil and Veja magazine as well as Radio France Internationale. Since 2004 she has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the US. She authored or co-authored several books in Portuguese on environmental issues and was honored by the 2002 Reuters-IUCN Press award for Latin America and by the 2004 Prêmio Ethos. You can read more by her at Deep Brazil – www.deepbrazil.com.

    Tags:

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    Petrobras's Gurupá oil ship

    Brazil Finds Oil in New Exploratory Frontier Off Northeast Coast

    Brazilian state-controlled oil multinational Petrobras and Norwegian company StatoilHydro announced this Tuesday, November 25, ...

    Awá Indians from Brazil

    Brazilian Indians Leave Forest to Prove They Exist

    Brazil’s Indians from the tiny Awá tribe starting this Sunday and for the next ...

    South Africa One of the Stops on Brazil Lula’s Fifth Trip to Africa

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will begin Tuesday, February 6, his fifth ...

    Americans in Brazil, Come November You Have the Right to Vote!

    While the US general elections only happen on November 7, it’s time for the ...

    Chiasso, the Brazilian Answer to Luxury Fashion

    Brazilian stylist Leonardo Chiasso, originally from the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the ...

    Pirelli Spends Over US$ 50 Million on New Brazilian Unit

    Italy-based tire company Pirelli inaugurated Wednesday, March 22, the expansion of the company industrial ...

    Serrado, the Brazilian savannah

    How Brazil Turned 1/4 of Its Territory from Desert into World’s Granary

    The phrase "in this land, whatever is planted will grow," originally from a letter ...

    Swift's Modest Proposal

    Brazil Adopts Swift’s Modest Proposal Condemning Children to Slow Death

    In 1729, the writer Jonathan Swift presented what he called “A Modest Proposal” to ...

    Brazil Loans Argentina $200 Million in Effort to Integrate SA

    Brazil’s Development Bank (BNDES) is going to loan US$ 200 million for the export ...

    An ATM (caixa automático) in Brazil

    The Brazilian ATM Wouldn’t Give Me My Money. And So Started My Nightmare

    You are finally there. Your dream holiday is just about to start. You waited ...