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voltarFATHER CICERO

The great devotion for Father Cicero moves, every year, almost two million faithful making it the most important Catholic cult in Brazil. The town of Juazeiro do Norte, situated in the heart of the semi-arid region of the Sertão, in the Ceara’ state, is the destination of the pilgrimage. It is the place where the monk was born and lived during the second half of the nineteenth Century, becoming the central figure not only of the region’s religious life, but also of the social and political one. After his death, occurred in 1936, his myth hasn’t stopped growing, reaching every corner of the immense and poor Brazilian northeast. Even today, father Cicero is honored and venerated in the typical and religiously traditional culture of the Sertão, in which Catholic practices inextricably melt with popular beliefs and Afro-Brazilians syncretism. For the inhabitants of a town that grew too rapidly, with little infrastructures and scarce economic resources, the monk’s myth represented a new survival opportunity. Religious tourism is the propeller of the local economy, guaranteeing profits not only for the official economy but also and foremost for the submerged one. One example is the enormous illegal productions of the Saint’s statues that exploit the religious iconography’s market. In 2016, the Holy See emitted an official document that concluded the reconciliation process between the priest and the Roman Church. On the occasion, Pope Francisco defined father Cicero as an evangelical instrument for the people, and the Juazeiro’s celebrations as a stronghold of the poor’s faith.