Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

divine revelry
Battalion of Knights of the Divino Espírito Santo walk along a road between farms during the Folia Divina
Emperor of the Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit welcomes the Knights of the Divine in his home.
Horseback Riding
Cavaleiros do Divino gallop in front of the church of the Rosary.
Marian Faith
Faithful kneels before the image of Our Lady.
Cavaleiro do Divino prays on a farm visited by Divina Folia.
Young rider resents his horse's resistance to being ridden.
Hippo Encounter
Young riders talk on a street in the historic center of Pirenópolis.
Spear delivery
Knights of the Holy Spirit deliver spears to the new Emperor of the Feast of the Holy Spirit.
Procession of the Divine arrives at the altar of the Church of Nª Senhora do Rosário.
masked before time
A young man from the Cavaleiros do Divino group assumes himself as Masquerade during a moment of fun in a bar in Pirenópolis.
crown and shadow
Faithful holds the crown of the Holy Spirit
line dances
Knights of the divine dance in a bar in the historic center of Pirenópolis.
nuisance rockets
Faithful cover their ears to better withstand the bangs of another rocket volley.
knights dance
Knights of the Holy Spirit dance in a moment of fun after a rehearsal.
Divine Stewards
Divine stewards during a religious ceremony of the Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit.
Little knight tries to find his place in a circle dance performed during the Folia Divina.
Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.

As May approaches its end and the Feast of the Divine in Pirenopolis, a considerable part of the men of the city thirst for an inevitable anxiety.

The Folia do Divino is imminent and, almost a month of concentrated freedom, exaggerated but justified fun and, in the case of the predominant devotees, a renewal of belief in the Holy Spirit is announced.

When the time comes, the blue and white shirts and the banners receive the ultimate care, like the best mounts that are brushed to exhaustion before being put on the harness.

Once en route, the euphoric retinue of Cavaleiros do Divino visits farm after farm and site after site, indulging in long banquets, well-watered singing and catiras (folk dances of the region) but also in group prayers.

Cavaleiros do Divino during the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Battalion of Knights of the Divino Espírito Santo walk along a road between farms during the Folia do Divino.

May, the Folia do Divino, the start of the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo

When all the Pousos da Folia Rural are celebrated, the troops regroup in the last farm. From there, go towards the city to join the Urban Folia.

We appreciate its apotheotic burst through the historic center of Pirenópolis, applauded by thousands of visitors from Goiás and other parts of Brazil and by a semi-drunk army of masked curucucus, species of marginal souls.

Knights of the Divine, Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Knights of the Holy Spirit gallop in front of the church of the Rosary

At the same time, a historical subterfuge that the people resorted to to force entry into the event that was, for a time, monopolized by a moneyed elite.

The Feast of the Holy Spirit was inspired by the Bodos ao Pobres, religious celebrations held in Portugal from the XNUMXth century onwards that praised the Third Person of the Holy Trinity and in which, coinciding with the day of Pentecost Island, food and alms were offered to the poor.

Due to the evangelical action, its tradition was strengthened in several future Portuguese colonies such as the Azores and the Brazil. In Vera Cruz, the festival kept its Catholic roots but, influenced by the exotic lands that welcomed it and surrendered to the whims of its mentors and actors, it allowed for countless extravagances.

The Jesuit Adaptation of the Azorean Version of the Festa do Divino

In Pirenópolis, the Jesuits were responsible for introducing and rooting the Azorean cult of Espírito Santo, using elements and characters with strong Christian symbolism over time, adapted to the tropic-Brazilian reality of the region of Goiás.

It was the cases of Coroa and Ceptro do Divino, but also of the leading figure of the Emperor of the Divine – representing the King and the Lisbon Court – that several priests played, contributing to the notoriety that the commemoration would gain.

Moment of the Divino Espírito Santo Festival, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Faithful cover their ears to better withstand the bangs of another rocket volley.

The rockets explode with a deafening roar. They force the people to cover their ears. Even so, it is the metallic sound of hundreds of horseshoes on the asphalt or the sidewalk of the old city that defines the events.

We accompany the procession that ends at the door of the decorated home of the Emperor in force, selected by drawing lots from dozens of candidates.

There, the Knights deliver to the host the Spears and Crown of the Divine, which can be admired and venerated by believers. And, after carrying out other rites and rituals, they are treated to a comforting meal.

Delivery of the Spears, Feast of the Divine Espírito Santo, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Knights of the Divine deliver spears of the Divine to the new Emperor of the Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit.

From Raising the Flag of Divino to the Ruidosa Banda do Couro

That same night, there is a mass at the Igreja Matriz in Nª Senhora do Rosário. When the Eucharist ends, a huge bonfire is lit, just barely safe from its nave and the enchantment of the huge flames attracts an enthusiastic crowd. The Banner of the Divine is in its place. It remains to raise the imposing mast that must hoist it.

Procession enters the Church of Our Lady Rosário, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Procession of the Divine arrives at the altar of the Church of Nª Senhora do Rosário.

The task is risky and requires an impressive collective effort that the volunteers smooth out using long sticks that require a delicate combination of strength and balance. The slightest mistake can result in tragedy, but with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, everything goes for the best. As a reward, a new grandiose firework lights up the black sky.

The journey does not end there yet. A noisy merry-go-round that occupies the opposite side of the church invites the most populist participants to join the dance and the snacks, while the elegant terraces on Rua do Lazer entertain the rest.

Later, at around four in the morning, the resistant revelers (but also those who are already sleeping) are treated to a dawn by the old woman (created in 1814) Banda de Couro. And, as if this compulsive awakening were not enough, in the early morning that is announced, the city is offered a new pyrotechnic discharge.

Dance of the Knights of the Divine in a Bar in Pirenópolis, Festa do Divino Espírito Santo, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Cavaleiros do Divino dance in a bar in the historic center of Pirenópolis.

At the end of the weekend, the outsiders return to their origins and the village enters into a semi-animation regime, stimulated “only” by the performances of the Banda de Couro, the pealing of bells, masses and daily rehearsals of Cavalhadas, a reconstitution – equestrian, of course – from the Crusades that close, every year, the long ceremonial.

The Little Virgins and the Breads of the Feast of the Divine

We come to a new Saturday. Both the knights and the masked reappear. The Imperial Courtship is already in motion and it is the little virgins in white who demand attention until the procession gives way to the drawing of the successor Emperor.

Once the winner is found, the current one is taken by a vast religious company to their home where Verónicas (sweets) and Pãezinhos do Divino are distributed to the girls who purified the procession. This ritual, in particular, requires extra patience from both organizers and participants.

Fé Mariana, Pirenópolis, Brazil

Faithful kneels before the image of Our Lady.

A line is formed that extends from the entrance hall to the avenue adjacent to the house. And, in that order, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and women with the nerve to suffice but suspect kinships receive a basket with the desired cakes.

They then leave through a different door and are supposed to follow the path, but many, taking advantage of the confusion that takes over the ceremony, return to the queue to take the gift to double or triple, using the purest charming creativity when they are caught: "Hey, they're for the little sisters. If you don't take it to them, they'll be jealous!"

Shortly thereafter, the female crowd leaves the Emperor's house. On the way back to their homes, the sound of horseshoes against the polished stones of the pavements echoes in the streets of the center, more intense than ever, or an appeal to a certain family relationship influential enough to justify a squint.

On the imminence of Cavalcades from Pirenópolis

In this way, the city walks fill with the return of outsiders. Most come from Brasília, Goiânia and the many surrounding villages. Some come from farther afield. From Sampa, from Rio, from abroad, attracted by the increasingly popular beauty of the party.

Cars are prohibited in the historic center. This gift allows the masked to seize the wide streets where they ride meaninglessly, stopping only to pose for photos of the public and ask for small contributions to purchase their fuel: the cold beer.

Masked during the Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit Pirenópolis, Brazil

ovem of the group of Cavaleiros do Divino assumes himself as Masquerade during a moment of fun in a bar in Pirenópolis

Refusal is rare. We are in the dry season in the Brazilian Midwest region and the heat is on, especially when you are inside a fiber suit for hours, with your head in a cardboard mask.

Around one in the afternoon, the curucucus they make way for the solemn passage of the Christian and Moorish “armies” towards the Cavalhódromo. There the Cavalcades.

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