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Catholic Syncretism in Latin America

History and today in a nutshell

The first centuries in the New World

The first europeans arrived Latin America in 1492 Catholicism was the official ideology of early colonialism Real patronato de las Indias

Bartolome de las Casas was one of the (few) europeans that defended Indians-> the apostle of Indians Our lady of Guadalupe -> the sainthood of America -> a symbol of Latin American Catolicism

20th century: the catholic right CELAM in 1968

A new engagement in political problems like violence and poorness

Our Lady Aparecida (Nossa Senhora

- in October of 1717 three fishermen who always prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, didn't catch any fish - they caught a statue in the net without a head. They cast the net again and brought up the head of a statue - they continued to wish with a faith in the Virgin Aparecida (who appeared). Story tells their net became very full with fish - the first miracle of Our Lady of

Picture: ODimages5/227_Aparecida02.jpg

- not known how the statue ended up the river - artist known: Frei Agostino de Jesus, a "carioca'' monk from Sao Paulo who created artistic clay sculptures - the image was made around 1650

- The image is now a brilliant dark brown color, and is covered by a stiff mantle of richly embroidered thick cloth, allowing only her face and hands to be seen. - She wears on her head the imperial crown with precious stones with which she was crowned in 1904. - In 1930 Pope Pius XII proclaimed her principal patroness of Brazil.

Our Lady Aparecida! O Mother! Accept in your heart all Brazilian families! Accept all adults and old people, the young and children! Accept the sick and all those who live in solitude! Accept workers in the fields and factories, intellectuals in schools and universities, all those who are working in any institution. Protect them all! - APOSTOLIC PILGRIMAGE TO BRAZIL PRAYER OF JOHN PAUL II IN THE BASILICA OF APARECIDA Aparecida (Brazil), 4 July 1980

At times when the candles in the chapel would go out, they would be re-lighted of themselves. A slave in chains running from a cruel supervisor knelt at the feet of the statue, prayed to the Virgin Aparecida, and his chains loosened and came off. A blind girl was miraculously cured. A man who hated Catholicism tried to enter the chapel to break the statue, but the feet of his horse locked fast to the ground at the entrance of the building. - Prof. Plinio Corra de Oliveira

- devotion more popular in lower classes; the poor and suffering people from neighboring States go to Aparecida to ask Our Lady for help and relief in their material difficulties It is very salutary to admire her and be united to her in every dimension, every place, every meaning. In this way we can always consider her from new aspects and points of view. - Prof. Plinio Corra de Oliveira

- Her feast on October

12th is a national holiday - Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida - The Kicking of the Saint: D/9512/virgin_bashing/ For 10 minutes on live television, viewers saw a pastor of the Universal Church kick and abuse a statue of Brazil's patron saint - Our Lady of Aparecida. "This is no saint," he shouted. "Can God really be compared to this ugly thing?"




Material/Artistic dimension
Our Lady of Guadalupe is identified with preColumbian deitie Tonantzin In Catholic tradition seen as a symbol of all Catholic Mexicans important patroness of Mexico In art: - often presented as a dark skinned Madonna with traditional blue cloak and red dress surrounded with sunlight and flowers Also songs written to her honor

Material/Artistic dimension
In architectural art: - Basilica of Guadalupe, old and new (old one built in 1531-1709, new one built in 1974-1976) - Built on a top of Tepeyac hill; there used to be a ancient Aztec temple

Practical/Ritual dimension
Part of peoples life in Mexico; small altars in homes, on the streets Worshiped as a saint in Catholic churches, Masses; an important pilgimage: 15 million pilgrimers per year 12th of December: Massive parades with dancers, singers, players and prayers

Historical Basis
Historical Basis: Colonialization and Catholicizaiton made historically the Spain Catholicism and Indian native beliefs encounter. Colonization and Catholicization was the historical basis for the Catholic syncretism in Mexico. Catholic syncretism in Mexico as a process of synthesis: Missionary Catholicism as thesis: conversion and tolerance in some degree Native beliefs as antithesis: receptivity and retention Catholic syncretism as synthesis: creativity and new system of belief

Concept of god(s)
Catholicism--Thesis Trinitarian monotheistic Three in One and One in Three Creator, Protector, Lord, Saviour, and Life-Giver of all things Only Agent of Creation and Salvation All-Powerful, All-Present, and All-Knowing Native belief--Antithesis
Polytheisticthe Pantheon Most indigenous groups in Mexico at that time worshipped a pantheon of gods primarily associated with various aspects of nature, such as rain, fair, winds, and corn For the Aztecs, the most powerful gods included Quetzalcoatl (the patron of learning and the arts), Tialoc (the god of rain) and Huitzilipochtli (the god of war)

Concept of god(s)
Catholic syncretismSynthesis Converted to Christian God(?) Veneration of their traditional gods in the guise of devotion to Catholic saints

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Virgin Marry--Thesis
Blessed Virgin Marry, or Virgin Marry Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of God, and Mother of Church, Queen of Heaven, Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Angels, Queen of Peace, Star of the Sea Immaculate Conception Devotion to Virgin Marry Marian Apparitions, miracles, and healings

Tonantzin--Antithesis Goddess Mother of Aztec gods The Earth Mother The Mother of all living things Patron of chlidbirth Conceived by Immaculate and miraculous means

Our Lady of Guadalupe --Synthesis

The dark Virgin Marry Spoke in Nahuatla native language Called by natives as Tonantzin until 1560 Little Mother Queen of Mexico Patron of Mexico In a sense, the Virgin of Guadalupe represents the essence of Mexico, the fusion of two cultures, Catholic Spain and indigenous Mexico

Andrew Beatty, The Pope in Mexico: Syncretism in Public Ritual, in American Anthropologist, vol. 108, No.2, June 2006, pp 324-335. clecashion.html l /engfive.html