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Educação em Revista

versão impressa ISSN 0102-4698versão On-line ISSN 1982-6621

Educ. rev. vol.33  Belo Horizonte  2017  Epub 28-Set-2017 



Luiz Fernando Conde Sangenis2 

2Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Brasil


The large party of image enthronement of Blessed Gonçalo Garcia, in the Church of Irmandade da Senhora do Livramento dos Homens Pardos, in the eighteenth-century Recife, is a remarkable event for our purpose: the comprehension of the meanings and effects of Franciscans popular political-pedagogical actions in Colonial Brazil. Among the many events that happened during the celebration days, we will highlight the sermon pronounced by Friar Antônio de Santa Maria Jaboatão in the above quoted temple of brown people, in 1745. Beyond the controversy about the possibility if a saint has a brown color skin, Jaboatão does not exalt the Saint, but the brown color instead. He engages in defense of brown people, much ever more numerous in the colonial slave society. From the Franciscan utopia, he defends advanced position on the benefits of crossbreeding for a promising future of Brazil and the humanity. A real master class!

Keywords: Saint Gonçalo Garcia; Friar Jaboatão; Brown people; Crossbreeding


We dedicate, today, these respectful cults, these so deserved applauses, these big parties, these due favors, and all this new and big celebrity to the glorious and undefeated martyr São Gonçalo Garcia, credit, knowledge, honor, and glory to all those who, through their color, are called Brown. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 168)

The speech, in the way of sermon is, in a certain way, a class, a teaching lecture given by a minister/master. Sermo is derived from the Latin verb serere, because the person who lectures spreads the seeds of a doctrine (BARCIA, 1863, p. 217). The class, as well as the sermon, has noble and solemn connotations. The Latin meaning of class existing in the ancient Portuguese, was spatial: palace, court, or a honor room. By metonymy, the discursive or oratory action, performed in broad and cozy spaces with a higher number of people, starts also to be named “Class”. The churches naves, of dilated building dimensions, always searching for the unavoidable acoustics, are more like classes, in the remote meaning of the term. The pulpit, strategically placed, is occupied by a minister, who has permission to preach and teach. In French, the word clerc, with a double meaning, can mean both a member of the clergy, and intellectual person. It is the “intellectual”, born in the Middle Ages, the prototype of the professor in the Western World, who worked in the schools linked to the cathedrals (LE GOFF, 2011, p. 22). From the class/temple, we go to the class/school, which, in its academic way, keeps a lot of that symbolic material architecture. Both are places for power and for the language working as a service to the power (BARTHES, 1978).

The Church is the only school available to the poor people in the Colony. The popular celebrations were their great opportunity to exchange knowledge and for collective experimentation in the open air. There was, at the time, a pedagogy that was supported in the orality, in the images, in the movements, and in the symbols, and the results of it were efficient and lasting, giving to the individuals and to the communities learning and knowledge for the whole life.

It is not our intent, in this article, to discuss the relationships between fields or domains in the history. But we feel the need to “unite both forms of history - the cultural and the education -, which only very rarely are together”, as it was already said by Falcon (2006, p. 328). Lima e Fonseca (2003) is also a reference, when we examine the education history, from the point of view of the contemporary historiography, with an emphasis in the cultural history. According to the author,

{..,} the contribution the cultural history, as a field with theoretical methodological support can give to the advance of the education history is in the disclosure of dimensions still poorly exploited, out of the school and out of the schooling, as well as the bold imposition of new ways of looking into this, which is an already traditional dimension. (LIMA E FONSECA, 2003, p. 72)

In this direction, Lima e Fonseca (2009) assess the poor production related to the education historiography, which relates, specifically, about Brazil as Colony, mainly centered in the assessment of the schooled educational action from Companhia de Jesus and from the Aulas Regias resulted from Pombal reforms. This requires the use of other sources and theoretical perspectives that work with the idea of educational practices arising from the concept of cultural practices, developed by historians, and sociologists, as Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu and Roger Chartier. Under this point of view, it does not make any sense to make any frontiers between the cultural history and the education history, because both of them would not be similar as a histographic field. However, the education history use the methodological procedures, the concepts and the theoretical references, as well as several investigation objects that belong to the cultural history, and within the scope of the last is where we must place the education history (LIMA E FONSECA, 2003, p. 59). What is important here is to open opportunities for dialog among several fields of knowledge, the history, the education, the religion, the art and the other culture domains, as to allow connections among the interdisciplinary spaces arisen from the research movement.


Friar Antônio de Santa Maria Jaboatão (1695-1779), master, with formative influence and a big sacred orator, in September 12th 1745, was chosen to speak to the Recife people the sermon that he entitled “Historic, geographic, genealogic, political, and encomiastic speech, quoted in the new celebrity that consecrated the Pernambuco Brown People: the Beatified Gonçalo Garcia ” (JABOTÃO, 1758a, p. 167)1. The title, by its extension, reveals the goals of the mystical preacher at the time of the celebrations motivated by the enthronement of the image for São Gonçalo Garcia in the Igreja da Irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Livramento dos Homens Pardos (Church of the Brotherhood of Our Lady for the Freedom of the Brown People), in the city of Recife.

The true master class!

The main goal of Jaboatão class was using the panegyric salutation to the Brown Saint, natural from Baçaim, in India (1556), who became a martyr in Nagazaki (1597), to elevate and enable all the brown people. They call them Brwon, a noun spelled in capital letter, in all the times it appears along the written paper. Due to their skin color, the brown people suffered all kinds of prejudice and discrimination. But, as properly said by the preacher, “too many slanders, too many shameful things, contempt and mockery have being thrown at the Brown” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 169). We can imagine the impact of this speech in the core of a society that was based in the slavery, and had the economy based in the sugar production, which, even during the crisis, depended on huge flows of labor being imported from Africa!

The importance and the value of the party for São Gonçalo Garcia, is evident, give thought to several scholar works (ARAÚJO, 2001; BEZERRA, 2010; DIAS, 2010). The most important and the main source of all these investigations, the Summula triunfal da nova e grande celebridade do glorioso e invicto mártir São Gonçalo Garcia, by Soterio da Silva Ribeiro, edited, for the first time, in Lisboa, in 1753, and edited again by the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (IHGB, Historical and Geographic Brazilian Institute), in 1928, is available on the Internet, in the IHGB Website. This easiness for the interested to access makes no need for us to be worried about a detailed description about the several events that fueled the time duration of the big popular party, of which the mobilizing power called all the parts of Recife society.

The genesis of this cult, in Pernambuco, which culminated in the popular party, summarized in activities that lasted for two weeks, started with a private effort. According to the Summula from Ribeiro (1928, p. 12) - actually a pseudonym used by the Franciscan Fray, Manuel da Madre de Deus, religious brother, natural from Bahia -, the image of the beatified Gonçalo Garcia had been brought from Portugal to Recife by a “brown man”, named Antonio Ferreira. It does not report, however, from which city, in Portugal, it had brought the image. Lahon (2003, p. 138, 146) confirms the existence of several brotherhoods that added to the brown people in Lisbon, in the XVIII century. In the city of Porto, there was a Brotherhood invoked by São Gonçalo Garcia, and in Torrão there was a Brotherhood called Nossa Senhora dos Remédios dos Homens Pardos (Our Lady of Remedies for the Brown People). According to the same author, in 1740, Gonçalo Garcia became a patron for the brown people in the city of Porto (LAHON, 2003, p. 161). For sure this cult to Gonçalo Garcia goes back to the first decades of the XVIII century. Even if we can assume its origin through the simple mention to the martyr’s name in the identification of the brown people brotherhood in Porto, this doubt will still remain.

As to the date Antonio Ferreira arrived with the image in Recife, the Summula tells us that “there will be a little more than thirty years” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 12). Counting from the date of the party, in 45, we can suppose it has arrived around 1715. However, the year of publication of the Summula is 53. And, if we take as reference the date of the edition, taking into consideration the time between the writing and the printing, we reach a date before 1723, as thought by Viana (2016, p. 10). Different from Recife, where the cult remained private, until 1745, in Bahia, there are information, dated from 1720, about the institutionalization of mandatory cult to the Martyr Gonçalo Garcia, in the core of the Honorable Order of São Francisco Followers, in Vila da Cachoeira, created by free brown people (AHU, 1720, p. 13). It means to say that the cult to the brown martyr was not originated in Pernambuco, but, probably, in Bahia.

It was brought from Portugal by Antonio Ferreira to Recife “with the news that he received there, that the Saint had the same color of the image, and accident” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 12). During the time he kept it, he tried to spread the opinion he brought from the Kingdom, that the Saint had the brown color. Based only in the opinion from Portugal, he did not have the authority needed to confirm and expand such conviction. In spite of the brown devote having searched for the support from “some religious and knowledgeable people {for} this, none of them agreed that the Saint (being natural from India), could have that color” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 12). He could not have more success than “leaving in the memory of others the desire of its cult, which had the present live, and encouraged by Antonio Ferreira do Recife. But these people, as we already said, did not go to the light with their project” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 12). Frustrated, in its intents of establishing a cult to the Saint of his color in Recife, equal to the one he knew in the Kingdom, who died, Antonio Ferreira gave the image to “a devoted old woman in Brazil”, e País”, being later kept in the “oratory of the Representative of the Religious People from Santo Antônio do Recife, Manoel Alves Ferreira (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 12s.). However, Gonçalo Garcia’s image was far from the public eyes, hidden in a place that would be home to the lay administrator for Santo Antônio do Recife convent.

The Summula says, in a non-determined way, that “they have searched, lately, for the R. P. Fr. Antônio de Santa Maria Jaboatão, as supported in his knowledgeable report, and sensible advice” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 13). It is clear that the main people interested in this cause were the brown people congregated by the Irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Livramento (Brotherhood of Our Lady for the Freedom of Brown People). Nobody else but them would move towards the goal of validating the cult to a saint that, in spite of being unknown, had an “accident of color”, until them strange to the models of sanctity? But, because it is related to a martyr linked to the Franciscan Order, the subject will also attract the attention of the friars in Santo Antônio, especially Friar Jaboatão.


I heard somebody saying, (maybe like a joke) that from the beatified Gonçalo Garcia only one thing was doubtful, and that was that he was a saint, since he was Brown, and his vulgar terms. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 170)

Actually, the saint color started to be the object of a polemic that was established in Recife during years. According to the mindset at the time, the sanctity and the black color, or even the brown color, for being contaminated with “infected blood” (the designation used, at the time, for the people who had black, Moorish or Jewish ancestry), were repugnant. The rationale is simple: well, if the Church recognized the beatification of Garcia, he could not have brown color. Besides that, it was advocated that, being natural from India, and son of a Portuguese man and an Indian woman, he would not be genuinely brown.

Here come the Franciscan, specifically Friar Antônio de Santa Maria Jaboatão (1695-1779), to give the needed authority and greatly anticipated, but until them not given. The Summula says that Jaboatão assures to the people who consulted with him “that they could be sure that the Beatified Gonçalo Garcia, as natural from India, had , from the brown color, everything he could have as a saint of his color and accident” (RIBEIRO, 1928, p. 13). Later, in the sermon made in the mess on Sunday, celebrated for the memory of the Martyr, Jaboatão defends the thesis “that the Beatified Gonçalo Garcia is genuinely brown, by nature, and progeny” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 192). The old attempt to make him patron of the brown people may seem to have found, finally, the advocate they needed. The fact that the brown people got a saint with their color gave an extraordinary symbolic effect to the wishes and fights for social and economic rise of those who composed an important part of the Brazilian population, especially in Pernambuco, Bahia, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. However, Jaboatão’s goal is much more subtle than advocating for the sanctity of a brown man. His rhetorical effort does not focus Gonçalo’s sanctity, and this, everybody knows, but for more reasons, for being already a “canonized” martyr, he will warn the sacred speaker. The central core in his speech is the Brown color: “It is celebrated here a Brown Saint, who we knew, until now, about the sanctity, but we did not know he was Brown” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p.168, our emphasis). The very well thought semantic construction, the one that places the color before the sanctity, makes Brown a name, the noun, and Saint, an adjective. He also desired to repel the current ideas that gave the color a bad essence: “and for this Brown Saint, seeing all those from his color, making good that Name, that was supposed, until now, bad” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 168). Using as his rhetorical theme the beatitudes from Lucas Gospel (6, 22-23), Jaboatão showed his opposition to what “the world considered {…} and did not want to admit, that being Brown, he was saint, only because of the name: nomem vestrum tamquam malum” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 171)2.

From here I suppose, it is being noted that I am not here today to preach about the beatitude, and the glory that the beatified Gonçalo Garcia has in heaven, as a saint, nor will I speak about the statement that our Supreme Pontiff makes about his sanctity, because this, today, is not new, and do not even raises any question: the statement at seems no me relevant for today is about what can have and has, actually, some setback, bringing disgust to some, which is the nature, and the brown color of this saint. This brown color is what I come here today to beatify, or to declare a beatitude. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 173)

The enabling attitude, followed by the glorification of the brown color as the “most perfect than the white and the black” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 212) - it is what he will say, textually, in a later part of his sermon - it goes well beyond what we could classify as a bold position of a friar, a preacher, in the first half of the XVIII century. Jaboatão also shows an advance spirit for the time, restless, critical, polemic, sometimes even considered undisciplined. In a letter from August 24th 1770, targeted to Dom José I, Friar Manuel da Epifania, guardian of the Convent in Salvador, blames, directly his colleague for causing internal disturbances and for getting support from people outside the religious community and “for this reason, the highest clergyman cannot remediate their so proud procedures, showing no respect for the common peace, fueling disagreements, adding others to their nature, only to cause turmoil {…}” (ALMEIDA, 2012, p. 45ss.). Everything very generic. And, possibly, it was not only Jaboatão, the only one to make confusion. Actually, his religious province, between 1770 and 1780, lived in a bad climate, due to internal competition between the parties of Brazilian and Portuguese friars to fill the government positions, without giving advantage to one or other group, which was, always difficult, we would even dare to say, impossible. We are talking about an idiosyncratic case of a Franciscan “nativism” within walls (COSTA, 2002, p. 74s.). It was natural for the convent in Salvador, for being the province home, government headquarters, had become an environment in which the disagreements and problems could reach a severe proportion. To promote the internal order and the peace in the convents, it was created the so called Alternative Law, by a brief pontifical, determining the shifting in the parties when filling the positions in the government and in the other important positions within the communities.

According to the Statutes of the Franciscan Province (chapter CXI), which mentioned, clearly, the “peace disturbers”, the severity of such behavior, and the penalties that must be applied, those who were responsible for such “crime” should be treated as conspirators (ALMEIDA, 2012, p. 45). We are led to believe that some type of penalty was imposed to Friar Jaboatão by his superiors. We have no way to know what would have been the penalty, nor have the precise time it lasted. Maybe, the silence period, lasting for almost a decade, matched his last days of life. Then, some people make confusion, setting the date of his death around ten years before his real death, because he stopped to be seen, to write, and to preach, certainly against his will, causing this lack of accuracy to the unaware (HIPÓLITO, 1940, p. 66). A surprising situation, if in fact real, due to the authority Friar Jaboatão had, not only for having occupied important positions in the Order, as Lente de Filosofia (Lens of Philosophy) Definidor (Definer), and Cronista oficial (Official Chronicle writer) in his Province, but, above all, his recognized pastoral, academic, and literary qualities, of sacred speaker, poet, and genealogist.

His authority was recognized out of the closure, which is supported by the regular requests to the Friar of things, which included, from official reports by the civil and church authorities about disputed questions, to the approval of works, or to the designing of sermons and poetical writings for the most diverse social and celebration occasions. Jaboatão, himself, reported, in some of these documents in one of his books, that gather several writings, that he entitled “Obras Acadêmicas” (Academical Works), remaining, however, handwritten (JABOATÃO, 1759). In 1778, 81 years old, his report was also requested by the superiors of the Order about issues regarding disputes of jurisdiction between the Archbishop in Bahia, and the Clergymen from the Order, involving the missions under the Franciscan administration (ALMEIDA, 2012, p. 46).

The recognized public authority of Jaboatão, more than the fact that he, himself, was Franciscan, can explain the addressing of one more polemic issue: Gonçalo Garcia’s color, natural from India, and Franciscan martyr in Japan. The political, pedagogical, and social position taken by Jaboatão in a society that was colonial and slave-holding, when supporting the legitimate cause of the fight for the equalitarian recognition of the brown people, deserves to be praised by its unique meaning, specially, by his way of thinking, advanced for the mental and cultural barriers at the time.

Several contemporary people to Jaboatão, when seeing the issue of the probable brown color of a Martyr, a saint born in Asia, denied such unusual composition. Ribeiro says (1928, p. 14) he heard the reason claimed for the refusal of a non-discrete churchman to whom a sermon had been requested: “not having learned how to preach the impossible”, because it “was not possible to fit such accident into sanctity, what, honestly, can be understood from his natural impossibility”. Another case is one from the Franciscan Friar José dos Santos Cosme e Damião, Lente de Filosofia e de Teologia (Lens for Philosophy and Theology), one of Jaboatão’s masters when he studied in Bahia, famous Sacred Speaker, qualifier for the Holy Office is also a colleague for his ex-learner in Academia dos Esquecidos (The Academy of the Forgotten). In a sermon, given in 1746, in this saint celebration, in Bahia, he showed embarrassment when talking about the theme. The speech, maybe trying to create a suspense, delays the announcement of the skin color of the beatified, because he did not want, suddenly, to “scare as a certain and unquestionable thing” the listeners, his parental origin “but also the specific quality or attribute, even though for some, bad evaluated, and less valued (he did not want to say it not to scare your ears, but allows me to say it once), crossbred, mulatto” (LINS; ANDRADE, 1986, p. 503). The preacher apologizes when he feels obligated to say the designation “mulatto”, as if it were a bad word or something that could hurt susceptibilities! And, actually, in no other part of the sermon he mentions the color of the saint. The preacher could have chosen the expression “brown”, instead of “mulatto”, being the last one, in general, used in a pejorative way, in the colonial period (HILL, 2012; PESSOA, 2007). For sure, the use of the term “mulatto” would give a higher rhetorical effect to the bomb announced to the faithful: a mulatto is raised to the altar.


As the nature is always searching for improvement, and, more and more, communicating, mixing the black color with the white, through the same nature, the same happens to the white, improving the black, until it goes back to its principle, and stays in its natural. And who will deny that the brown color, which results, then, from the black, and white, does not pursue the perfection since its first principle? (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 209)

Mulatto or Brown, except what we said previously about the pejorative connotation carried by the word “mulatto”, is related to the same human type: a child generated from the mixture of white with black. This is the definition that Jaboatão takes from the Primeiro dicionário enciclopédico da Língua Portuguesa (First Encyclopedic Dictionary for Portuguese), by Raphael Bluteau (1638-1734), regular minister for the Ordem de São Caetano (Order of Caetano Saint), in Lisboa. Published in Coimbra, in the beginning of the XVIII century, it includes two entries: “mulatto” and “crossbred”. Bluteau based himself in the comments that Manoel de Faria e Souza made about the Camões text, making clear that the mixing between black and white people were part of the daily life in the Portuguese colonies, since the XVI century (HILL, 2012, p. 19s.).

More than mentioning the specificities of the phenotype, as the skin color and other body characteristics, mulatto or brown, as “color quality”, is related to a social condition, made of individuals in a fast process of social mobility (GUEDES, 2014). The main cause, which can justify this hierarchical success, leads us to the crossbred body, in which the traces are better shaped to the patterns and signs of being white. They hide, this way, easier, the stigma of slavery identified in the black color. The black color, more than being related to a person with black color, relates to the slavery. In these terms, black is as pejorative as or even more pejorative than mulatto.

The brown person is noticed as a disturbing element of the social order the society desired to keep, but, that, unquestionably, is in constant change. And it is disturbing because it is the most socially plastic and dynamic element in our education (FREYRE, 2004, p. 30). The brown person, in general, is a child from Portuguese, and member of the superior caste. Impure, but protected by the “godfather”, and not rarely treated as a son, and, even not being recognized by the father, has easier access to the house of the white people.

In sceneries from the beginning of the XVIII century, Schwartz notices the importance of the color in the statistics of the free brown people. Among the adults, the brown people accounted for 35% of the total, number, maybe, twice bigger than their statistical presence in the total of the slave population. Among the children, the brown people accounted for more than 78% of the free people, showing a clear advantage of the brown people in the process of emancipation during childhood (SCHWARTZ , 2001, p. 193).

The ones that once were slaves and their descendants that were born free, even the ones who had economic growth, did not escape the discrimination that was open, or even subtle, in the colonial society. For being a group with more opportunities to access the dominant culture, this group was also able to use the written word, tool that was, until that time, only available to the white people, to produce petitions, processes, and other claiming documents about their individual and group rights, as well as to writing defenses and manifests against the injustice to which they were victimized. This way, in spite of the official setbacks, some few brow people could have positions in the public administration, have careers in the armed forces, and entering in careers in the church (OLIVEIRA, 2014), situations that, according to the law, were not possible. They also entered specific troops of brown men, in the same way the black men were gathered for the Terço dos Henriques (Rosary of the Henriques) (MOTA, 2014). Brotherhoods and fellowships of brown men, as it was the habit for black and white men, arose under the protection of the Catholic Church. Having freedom, in general, in villages and cities, they worked in manual and mechanical jobs, with the commerce activities, and providing small services. It was not rare that they had slaves, a clear sign that they had grown economically and socially.

At the time, the brown people were called mulattos, when he did not agree to occupy the places that were considered their places. Gregório de Matos (1636-1696), in several of his satirical verses, mentions the “shameless, bold, and “daring mulatto”, who challenges the natural order of the things. Against the Priest Lourenço Ribeiro, who was mulatto, the so called Boca do Inferno (Hell mouth), makes use of mockery, after suffering harsh criticism from the priest, one of the persons he disliked.

We imagine that the

foolish big dog speaks so

much, because he knows a

lot, or not, just because he

is mulatto: having tick

blood having rotten smell

having bad smelling clothes is

considered perfection:

miracles of Brazil they are.

(CHOCIAY, 1993, p. 144)

In 1711, Antonil praises the several gifts of the mulattos when upraising their condition as good workers. He considered them able to do well any manual job. However, he warns that “many of them, using wrongly the favors their owners give them are vain, vicious, and like to show themselves as brave, ready for any insolence” (ANTONIL, 1837, p. 32); reason why he warns the Jesuit that “he should not give them the hand. They shall take the arm instead, and they should not be made owners” (ANTONIL, 1837, p. 32). The disagreement of the colonial high society with the “disgusting” social ascendance of the brown people has echo in Antonil’s words in the anthological sentence: “Brazil is the black people’s hell, the purgatory for the white people, and the heaven for the mulattos” (ANTONIL, 1837, p. 32).

The discovery of gold in Minas Gerais region, in the end of the XVII century caused a rush to the country of Brazil, in search for richness, not only by the part of the settlers. The number of Portuguese people that went to the Colony increased substantially. Other human impact was a renewed increment in the traffic of black people, especially to meet the needs of the new mining activity in Minas Gerais and Goiás. Something similar to what happened from 1600 on, in Pernambuco, to supply slaves to the sugar company as a Plantation method. In these regions, which had more money and a higher flow of people to search for fortune or dying under the exploitation, it is obvious that the number of crossbred people became considerably high. But the gold economy became, somehow, more important than the sugar economy, and changed the meaningful characteristics of the social organization. The society, which until then occupied the Portuguese colony in America - mainly landowning, stratified, and rural - experienced changes that were very unique. The commerce of different goods and services grew meaningfully, due to the demand arisen around the main activity of gold mining, which provided strength to a parallel economy, generally not taken into consideration by the traditional historiography, which used the thesis of the economic cycles to divide the national economic history to make it easier to learn. The social classes were diversified. They were not made, basically of two, the owners, and the owned, the slaves. We can also see the emergence of small businessman and service providers, among which there were a growing amount of free black people and brown people, taken into this condition through different ways, including buying their own freedom, through savings accumulated during years. The improvement in the social pyramid was more flexible. Another important change, the city, there, started to concentrate the people, as it never had done in the Colony before. A huge concentration of people in the city made it the main center of social activities, replacing the field/farm in this role (BOXER, 2000). In this new urban environment, the demographical changes, in a fast pace, got visibility, with the increase of black and brown people, salves or free, and made up the most numerous group of the population.

The social configurations in Brazil when it was a colony, from the XVIII century, when they become more complex, needed to be treated more carefully in the conceptual point of view. First of all, it is needed to say, truthfully, that the company based in the slavery is a “a mill to crush people” (RIBEIRO, 1995, p. 106). The captivity, in America, based in the appropriation of human beings through severe violence and permanent coercion, “acts as a big dehumanizer and destroyer of cultures with a great efficiency” (RIBEIRO, 1995, p. 118). Indians and black people are transformed into things. They can be sold, exchanged and used, sacrificing life to make the colonial engine work. As Ribeiro states (1995, p. 118), it is incredible that the Indians, like the black people, placed in this “mill that crushes cultures”, can remain humans: “they can only do that, however, due to an incredible effort of selfreconstruction, in the flow of their process of destruction and extinction” (RIBEIRO, 1995, p. 118).

Between the dehumanizing violence and the effort for selfreconstruction mentioned by Darcy, we see an opportunity to think about slavery in the scope of other perspectives. To Igor Kopytoff (1982, p. 221s), the slavery must not be defined as a status, but, otherwise, as a process of status transformation, which can be extended during a whole existence, and even extend to the next generations. The slave that has just arrived to the captivity is an outsider. He will experience, later, a process that will make him an insider. An individual, being stripped away from his original social identity, is placed in the bottom of a new social group that, however, impose him a new identity. It is concluded, then, that his condition as a stranger (outsideness) is not an ethnic issue, but sociological.

The slavery system in Brazil, from the XVII century and different from the Caribbean, French and English system, was known for practicing a big transatlantic traffic, but, that, at the same time, granted several constant manumissions, which was very difficult in those other countries. Certainly because of that, Kopytoff, in his analysis about the Brazilian slavery, tried not to separate slavery from manumission for being part of the same institutional process. This allows us to say that the generations of black people born in Brazil, the creoles, were they slave or free, experienced an advanced process of deculturation. With roots being set, little by little, in a new social configuration, they enjoyed a very superior status, when compared to their African descendants. The social ascension in the slavery society becomes possible in the legal transposition from the slave condition to the free man condition. But it is necessary to pay attention to the ideology of incorporation, that at the same time, promotes the ascension and undermine the ascended.

The mixture between white people, Indians and black people, happening since the beginning of the colonization, and the “demographic creoulation” (PARÉS, 2005, p. 88), more relevant in the areas with a higher flow of slaves used in the sugar economy in the XVIII century were great starters for the flexibilization of the stratification inequality. The hierarchical inflexibility of the first century in the colonization goes slowly down, to find the movement of “Brazilianism”. The brown people, released or born free, when they find a place in the middle, between the freedom and the slavery, they experience a paradoxical situation. Brown relates, above all, to the legal condition of free, notwithstanding the stigma of the color for the black ancestry. According to Ribeiro (1995, p. 223), the mulatto “is humanized in the issue of being two, which means being nobody”, once he is between two conflicting worlds, the black, the one which underestimates and the white, which rejects. The crossbred individual “is a strange, the other built in the distance between two radical poles. Would it be the link of a new world?”, asks Sá (2013, p. 168).

However, “the black people that had a position in the upper class identified themselves as members of the white community” (COSTA, 1999, p. 379), because, as in the old popular quote adapted by Freyre, “who escapes being black, white he is” (PIERSON, 1945, 205). Talking about Brazil, and, specifically about Pernambuco, Jaboatão highlighted that among the people in the upper positions, there were many brown people, so that “we could make a good list with all of them, if as we know their names, we could not find some with the colors changed” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 205, our emphasis).

The following centuries will expand the social categorizations and will make the social ranking more complex in the Brazilian society Russel- Wood (2005, p. 120s) noticed that the concept of pyramid applied to the enslaver societies in the New World presented limitations. When we talk about the societies with cultures from the Portuguese and the Spanish America, its use is even more limited, and must be done very carefully. The tropical society, says Russel-Wood (2005, p. 119), had its own internal dynamic for evolution, revolution, or backward step - which was more characterized for the change and the conflict, than for the continuity”. The mobility is not only vertical, but also horizontal, when differentiating members of the same group. Between the extremes separating the owner and the slave, there are points in the middle that match, in very different ways, to make the most diverse forms of insertion of the individuals in the society: birth, sex, religion, skin color, legal situation, social attributes, financial resources, family connections, fluency speaking Portuguese, and literacy degree, time living in America, profession, chronology, urban or rural address, and region of the colony, besides skills. Each one of these themes covers whole spectrums, in a way as to go from the catholic orthodoxy to the African religions, if the theme is religion. From the complete lack of knowledge of the language to the mastering of the African languages, regarding the fluency in Portuguese, from black to white, regarding the skin color, and from slave to freedom, regarding the legal statute (RUSSEL-WOOD, 2005, p. 120).

The crossbreeding, when involving generations and, thus, more than the acquisition of richness or status, or the mastering of the language, or the adherence to the official faith, takes too much time. And, however, is the safest and lasting way of ascending. The interracial marriages, under the ideology of whitening, not always motivated by conscious intentions are characterized, in general, by the selective initiative from them black man that got rich and got married to a white woman or with a woman with a clearer skin. Certainly his descendants will enjoy other condition, which will make it easier for them to have opportunities, usually not open to black people.


Now, I doubt thus: if the people, that nominate themselves here to crown the Church, are the ones who live in the four regions in the world, why aren’t the crowns also four? The crowns must be three, signified in those three veni, veni, veni coronaberis, and the people divided in four parts: from Lebanon, from Amaná, from Sanir, from Hermon? Yes, why? Because even if the parts of the world are four, the peoples that live these parts have been documented in only three colors, that are: the brown, the white, and the black, because, out of these three colors there are nobody in the world of another color. And, from here, it will be understood that besides the white, and the black, all the rest must be reduced to the brown color, and in this color people must search for their own station. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 217)

The mixture of colored people seemed to Jaboatão a natural path, a desirable one, to our Divine Creator. According to his understanding, humanity is composed of peoples of three colors: white, black, and brown, as it is read above. The brown is a “mixture {…}, participating in both colors, white and black” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 179). The “brunette”, “murky”, “brown”, or “mulattos”, all the crossbred, then, including the Indians, like Gonçalo Garcia, and the red, natural from America, have “black and white ancestry” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 196).

A man of his time, regarding the texts of the Bible, Friar Jaboatão, in general, adhered to the explanatory and the hermeneutic that were supported by the common “opinion of the sacred lecturers” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 199), according to the Church tradition. If, on one side he had an approach that was based both in grammar and in history, with emphasis in the text literality (Adan was really Adan, and Noah flood was really a flood), on the other hand, he tried to find the theological sense of textuality. But, on the other hand, the practice of this kind of explanation of the Bible, with homiletics purpose, leads him to take from the biblical reports, without damaging the historical context, a hidden spiritual sense, which will be found through allegory. Both usages are present in his sermons. This way, the black people, descendants from Cam, the cursed Noah’s son, carry in their skin the stigma and the sign of the cursing, the black color. And, about Adan, created from the Earth, “we cannot deny that the first material, and the first natural principle of our body was the clay” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 210).

To search for other references, not only the church ones, similar opinion we get in the Diálogos da Grandeza do Brasil (1618), in which the author, new Christian, and owner of mills, in Paraíba, Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, states that the black people from Guiné and from Ethiopia “should be descendants from Adan, and, then from Noah, that were white”, and “descendants from the bad Cam and his son Canaã” (ABREU, 1956, p. 40s).

Until then, nothing new!

The explanation of the speaker himself starts to surprise when he interprets that the prototype of all the men was not white, nor black, but brown, because the brown color is the original color of clay. And, for reasons said natural, he concludes that god wanted to give “to that first image of the man {…} only the brown {color}, because the Brown color was more perfect than the black, and, than the white {…}”. Well, and the most perfect work from God’s hands “should have the most perfect color, and this color was the Brown color” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 212).

Surprisingly, also, when he understands that, due to the experienced humiliation and suffering, the brown people are presented as deservers, and addressees of the so promised evangelic beatitude. Such beatitude, however, is based in an eschatology that is very bold, that is not the one used usually to scape, and usual at the time. By the way, this is well opposed to the tradition in which it was treated by the great preachers, such as Padre Vieira, to whom we refer to, not for his originality, but for having been the great expression of this doctrine in the Colony. Finding some reason for the good in the slavery, the Ignatian master was able to teach it to the black, his preferential listeners for the tenth of sermons of the Rosary he gave. Under the inspiration of the happiness post-mortem reached by poor Lázaro in the Gospel, the Jesuit preacher makes the following prophecy: “{…} There will come a time, not too long from now, that this wheel will turn, and then we will see which is the best fortune, if the bad and undermined slaves lives or the ones of their owners” (VIEIRA, 1945, p. 113). There would be a lesser evil in the slavery of the black people that became Christians through the Baptism, than with the ones that remained pagans in a land of damnations: “{…} the black people taken from the roots of the Ethiopia, and taken to Brazil, knew well how much they own God {…}, for this, that can be seem as exile, captivity, and disgrace, and it is indeed, a miracle, and a great miracle (VIEIRA, 1945, p. 305)!”. And believing strongly in a kind of stoic dualism, kind of platonic, is able to praise the slaves: “You are captive in that exterior half that is the most evil of you, which is the body. However, in the other interior half and very remarkable, that is the soul {…}, you are not captive, but free” (VIEIRA, 1945, p. 340). It is the truth, if they are converted, adds the Priest. Jaboatão, in the wrong direction, preaches a very rational theology, the flow of the happiness while living, here and now, mixed to the suffering and to the delight, not denying, though, that happiness not related to the body, even divine, of who died and, only in the heaven gets the eternal prize.

The beatitude or glory, that the Lord states here, is not the one in the heaven, it is the one in the Earth, it is not the one enjoyed in the country of origin, it is the one that can happen in this world: it is the glory, the pleasure that uses to come after finishing the work, undoing the humiliation, and past the turmoil: it is the literal sense of the text, because everything in it is things they should experience here in the world, and among men, where the glory, that can happen, is only a pleasure, an enjoyment that goes away: Beati eritis. Gaudete, exultate. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 173)

He does not come to invite the brown people to the patient suffering, in the hope of a scatological happiness that should came, not even to prophesize victories to be conquered in times of future grace. His class is the one of the announcement that, in those days of celebration of Gonçalo Garcia’s color, matching with the time in which they “searched and got more tribulations of the slanderers for their names {Brown}” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 172) - in a kairological time, then -, it happened the prophecy promised by Christ to the brown people.

Christ said to the disciples, that they would have their day, but He did not said when this day would be. Maybe, because he wanted us to came to know that day through today. {…} Because now is the time, the day has arrived. {…} Now, yes, that the slanders to your name have grown {…} now is the time to be published your glories: Beati eritis, it has arrived the day of your great pleasure and enjoyment: Gaudete in illa die, exultate”. (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 172)

The beatitudes of the brown people, in a scatological way, or as is Jaboatão’s desire, for the flowing in the immanence and concreteness of their days in Earth, gets full power with the philosophical theory that he defends about the crossbred: “In the good philosophy, the simple body is more perfect than each one of the elements, and the reason is: it happens because the simple mixed body contains in itself all the basic qualities, and participates in the perfection of each one of them” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 212).

And, giving several examples in which to base his statement, he concluded: “Thus, if the brown color includes, and is part of the imperfections of the blackness and the whiteness, well, it means that the brown color is the most perfect, more than the white and more than the black” (JABOATÃO, 1758a, p. 213), a thesis very different from the one of his contemporary people and from the ones that would still come, two centuries later, to defend the tendency to degeneration of the crossbred humans. We have already talked about the thesis that supported a probable contamination by the blood considered infected, and from there comes the expression “infected race”. Having a race meant to refer to somebody that was descendant from the Moorish, Jewish or Black. A Christian would not belong to a race. The use of the race concept is anachronistic, and, thus, not proper for the understanding of the social classifications in the Old Scheme (RAMINELLI, 2012). That is the reason why, only more recently, there is the introduction of the “race” concept (like we know it) and of the thesis of the existence of superior and inferior races, subsidiary to positivist, evolutionist and Darwinist theories, all, until then, unknown. From several basic principles, these thesis advocate that the miscegenation, the mixing of colors or races, would lead to the degeneration of the offspring, that would not inherit the superior qualities of the races from none of their parents. From European origin, and being announced by the most famous science men, they earned credibility in these parts of the New World. Among several theoretical people, there are George-Louis Leclerc, Conde de Buffon (1707-1788), who deserves attention to their thesis of “continent infantilism”, and Cornelius Pauw (1739-1799), with the thesis of the “American degeneration” (SCHWARTZ, 2015, p. 61). We cannot forget Gobineu (1816-1882), the most mentioned by the people who talk about this theme. We believe that he is always more remembered, not because of his scientific qualities, but due to his apocalyptic prophecies, that reached the peak when he gave a date for the disappearance of the Brazilian people, such the amount of crossbred people he found in Brazil, and the degree of degeneration that he identified in these “colored men (RAEDERS, 1988).

Among the national people, we mention the doctor from Maranhão, professor of the Medicine College in Bahia, Nina Rodrigues (1862- 1906), one of the renowned representatives of the scientific racism in Brazil. In a work with a suggestive title, Mestiçagem, degenerescência e crime (Mixing of races, degeneration, and crime), states:

The mixing of such anthropologically different races, such as the white, the black and the red race, resulted in an out of balance product, with a fragile physical and moral resistance, not being able to adapt to the Brazilian weather or to the social fights conditions of the superior races. (RODRIGUES, 2008, p. 1161)

In another text, Nina Rodrigues (1862-1906) uses the words from Luís and Elizabeth Agassiz, Swiss naturalists that had gone to Pará, Amazonas and Rio de Janeiro, between 1865 and 1866, and who stated the mixing of races were the real reason for the degradation of the peoples living in the Amazon region.

The result of not interrupting the linkage between mixed blood is a class of men in which the pure type disappeared, and with it, all the good physical and moral qualities of the primitive races, leaving, in their place a degenerate people, repulsive as dogs, product of a race female dog, like a moment of pleasure, with disapproval from the animals of their species, among which it is impossible to find only one individual who kept the intelligence, the nobility, and the natural affection that make the pure race dog, the companion, the favorite for the civilized man. (AGASSIZ, L.; AGASSIZ, E. apudRODRIGUES, 1938, p. 178)4

Until the middle of the XIX century, when the speeches were not so fearful as the Agassiz’s, and without having, yet, the most sophisticated theoretical tools in the Biology, the monogenist thesis was the dominant one, agglutinating mot part of the men in the science. The intellectual people, challenged to think the origin of men like the Bible, believed that the humanity was only one. The man would have a common originating source. The variety of the human types would result of a potentiality or of the theological conquer, having, as its basis, the philosophy of essentialism from Aristotle, damaged by the dogma of the fall of the human gender, that led to the degeneration of the created nature. In the XVIII century, the Aristotle words enjoyed known authority, not only from the part of the Jesuit, but also from Philosophers, such as Leibniz, for whom, in the divine works, “there is a harmony, a preset beauty” (LEIBNIZ, 1988, p. 239). Different from the concept of evolution, which will get credibility from the second half of the XIX century, it is relatively consensual that all the things were already ready since the beginning. Nothing new grows or rises. It is improved what already existed before.

It is clear, in Jaboatão’s teaching, that the perfection and the degeneration have similar distance to the Eden. The closer to the origin, better the perfection. That is why the brown color, for being original, is considered the most perfect, even having to be product from the mixture of the other two. The black, however, for being caused in consequence of a sin, has less perfection, when going away from the original order. But, paradoxically, with the development of science, neither black nor crossbred individuals would escape the terrifying conclusions of the naturalists, who did not see the possibility of salvation for a mixed humanity, full of damaging elements. In summary, we go from “edenization” to the “detraction” (SCHWARTZ, 2015, p. 58).

Advocate for the Franciscan utopia, of which the drafts started to be outlined when writing Novo Orbe Seráfico Brasílico (New Brazilian Seraphic Country), the thought of Jaboatão, under the perspective of the difference, has the understanding that the brown people are, above all, new people, that less unequal or more equal (BARROS, 2014, p. 26), points to the promising future of Brazil - Orbe Novo, e Seráfico (New and Seraphic Country) -, as well as of the humanity (ALMEIDA, 2012). This inspiration makes us refer, immediately, to the utopia from Darcy Ribeiro, which appeared in the end of last century, but continuing the tradition created by the attributions of Euclides da Cunha, Manoel Bonfim, Gilberto Freyre, among others, that developed positive look towards the mixing of races:

We must emphasize that, in spite of being made through the melting of differentiated matrixes, the Brazilian are, today, a more homogeneous people, regarding linguistics and culture, and also one of the most socially integrated in the Earth. {…} We are still new peoples, struggling to make ourselves a new human gender that has never existed before. A much more difficult and hard task, but also much more beautiful and challenging. {…} We are building, in the fight to flourish, tomorrow as a new civilization, mixed and tropical, proud of itself. Happier, because has more suffering. Better because it has, in itself, more humanity. More generous, because it is open to living with all the races and all the cultures, and because it is set in the most beautiful and luminous province in the Earth. (RIBEIRO, 1995, p. 454s.)

Darcy’s thought updates the Franciscan utopia, rooted in Brazil, and is based in the charisma of São Francisco, himself. The Franciscan ideals are about universal fraternity, happiness, and the reconciliation of the mem among themselves and with the nature. In the anthropologist words, we have the echo of the beatitudes Jaboatão spoke about in his class, in the brown church.


The Franciscan teaching of Friar Jaboatão did not save efforts to praise the crossbred people, not because they are better, but because they suffered more, thy are not treated fairly, and, according to the theological categories, based in the Good News, and with a strong social appeal, and the main beneficiaries of the Good News (Mt 6, 33; Rm 14, 16-18). It is relevant, then, to ask, taking the same soteriological nexus, if the black would not precede the brown in the event of God’s Justice? For concentrating the preaching in the valorization of the Brown color of the Indian martyr, Jaboatão has not talked about slavery, the suffering of the black people. Nor was the Friar a libertarian advocate to condemn the slavery. It seems that the main mindset at the time considered it an absolute truth, which we must tolerate or minimize the sequels. He will not escape this theme, in other part of his work, because he was also a fervorous advocate of the cult to Saint Benedito, the black Franciscan made saint by the popular devotion, before the official canonization. Without falling into the mystification of the crossbred individual, Jabotão advocated for the undermined, a place in society where are the brown individuals, not without projecting a utopia to humanity. For now, we must conclude, emphasizing that the crossbreeding became a vital element for the understanding of the colonial societies, as well as the post-colonial societies. The crossbreeding overcame the biological and racial references, reaching, above all, the cultural scope, and its formulation became an essential element for the understanding of the contemporary societies.


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1We got, from the author, himself, of the Speech the information that his text was printed, for the first time, in 1754, with a small variation in the title (JABOATÃO, 1758b, p. 348) and, later, was gathered to other sermons to compose the book entitled Jaboatão místico em correntes sacras dividido (Jaboatão, mystical in sacred currents divided), from 1758.

2The expression is translated as: “To your name as evil” and makes sense when we insert it in the verse from which it was extracted: “Blessed you will be, when the men hate you, get you apart, and humiliate you, and reject your name as evil, because of His Son” (Lc 6, 22).

3Parts of the Sermon are reproduced, but the text authors do not mention the source.

4In spite of Nina Rodrigues emphasizes the text of the naturalists and travelers, he hides the other references. However, we know that the mentioned piece refers to Voyage au Brésil, edited in Paris, in 1869. Most recently, in 2000, the Federal Senate edited again the work that is available in the Website of Biblioteca Digital do Senado (Senate Digital Library), as mentioned in our References (cf. AGASSIZ, L.; AGASSIZ, E., 2000).

Received: June 15, 2016; Accepted: January 30, 2017

Contact:Luiz Fernando Conde Sangenis Rua Timbiras, 357, São Francisco iterói|RJ|Brasil, CEP 24.360-250


Doctor in Education from Universidade Federal Fluminense Fluminense (UFF) {Federal University from Rio de Janeiro}. Associate Professor from the Professors Graduation College UERJ (FFP/UERJ). Researcher for the Graduation Program - Master in Education - Formative Processes and Social Unequalities. Email:<>.

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