Saint George the Warrior

April 23rd is a holiday in Rio de Janeiro. Celebrations start between 4 and 5 am, and in some suburban neighborhoods they continue throughout the week. Many churches are already packed with believers in the early morning, as is the case with Saint George’s Church, downtown. Nearby, people are dressed in red and white, awaiting the chance to greet their patron saint. Saint George is the object of devotion of both catholic and Afro-Brazilian religions, and his devotees attend masses, outdoor blessings, processions, feasts and concerts held in his honor. The catholic Saint George is syncretized with Ogum, the warrior orisha.
This essay was born from the individual interest of two researchers, who would later get together to conduct a more comprehensive survey. Though Saint George was not, at first, the subject of our primary study, he would quickly become the photographic object of our devotion. We found it very enriching to observe the ways in which people connect with their saint through religiosity and a wide range of products – including candles, bracelets, flowers, statues and stylized t-shirts –, and through parties, samba circles and concerts that celebrate Saint George-Ogum.
These eight photographs are an attempt to understand faith, a small sample of how this celebration entered the Rio de Janeiro calendar and found us as a research theme. Above all, this is an attempt to understand how Saint George is a warrior, popular, musical and poetic, but, above all, carioca.
This essay was presented at the IX Anthropology Meeting of the Mercosur in Curitiba, in 2011, and was donated to be part of the collection of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology/PPGAS/Anthropology Department of the Federal University of Paraná. With the donation, the aforementioned institutions were also given the right to digitally reproduce the work, whether in full or in part, as long as dully credited and used exclusively for academic and cultural purposes.