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Cachoeira (Brasile)

An ancient brotherhood

The 23 elderly women are gorgeous, their faces wrinkled, their necklaces superimposed, their smiles dazzling. They caress with blatant gestures all those who approach to receive a blessing or a wish, enjoying the protagonism of these only three days, wrapped in a group of wide skirts on the steps of the church.

This unusual group is the Irmandade da Boa Morte, the only completely female brotherhood in Brazil that has its roots in the distant 1820, when it was formed by a group of ex African slaves who undertook to finance the liberation of children, husbands, relatives and other needy women.

Cachoeira is pullulated with white-clad adepts. Numerous overseas representations, the children and grandchildren of the freed slaves come here every year to thank the women who freed their fathers.

The ceremony takes place in the Iglesia Matriz Nossa Senhora do Rosario and to a certain extent it feels like a normal Catholic mass, celebrated, of course, by a priest. But here comes the statue of the Virgin Mary, specifically Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte which, in the tradition of this brotherhood, has been resurrected to a new life.

You can find the full version of this report on:
OASIS – Environmental culture magazine – n. 194