Juazeiro do Norte

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Juazeiro do Norte

Juazeiro do Norte (until 1944 Joaseiro or Joazeiro), one of the principal cities of the state of Ceará in Brazil. Located in the Carirí Valley in the uplands of Ceará's interior, the city has an estimated population of 240,638 (2006) and serves as a commercial and manufacturing center, depending primarily on the processing of sugar and cotton.

Drawn by rumors of a miracle, pilgrims flocked from the Brazilian backlands to the town during the 1890s. In 1889 and again in 1891, the host reputedly turned to blood during mass celebrated by local priest Padre Cícero Romão Batista (1844–1934). Although the Catholic Church refused to accept the alleged miracle and threatened Padre Cícero with excommunication if he persisted in insisting on its validity, thousands of peasants regarded the priest as a saint, and Joaseiro's population reached thirty thousand by 1914. Such growth helped to make the city an industrial and commercial center of the Sertão.

Padre Cícero's spiritual power quickly translated into political influence. His actions in state and national politics were closely tied to maneuvers of José Gomes Pinheiro Machado but were also influenced by shifts in Ceará's economy, by the complex interplay of church-state relations, and by the instability of his own relations with the church hierarchy. Maintaining his base in Joaseiro, Padre Cícero held sway over much of the state and was instrumental in toppling the state government of Marcos Franco Rabelo in March 1914.

Despite excommunication in 1916, Padre Cícero retained his spiritual and political influence until his death in 1934. Juazeiro do Norte remains a pilgrimage center as well as an important political bailiwick.

See alsoMessianic Movements: Brazilxml .


Amália Xavier De Oliveira, O Padre Cícero qui eu conheci: Verdadeira história de Juazeiro do Norte (1969).

Ralph Della Cava, Miracle at Joaseiro (1970).

Luitgarde O. C. Barros, A Terra da Mãe de Deus: Um estudo do movimento religioso de Juazeiro do Norte (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Camurça, Marcelo Ayres. Marretas, molambudos e rabelistas: A revolta de 1914 no Juazeiro. São Paulo: Maltese, 1994.

Freixinho, Nilton, and Antônio Olinto. O sertão arcaico do Nordeste do Brasi: Uma releitura. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 2003.

                                               Cara Shelly