Even today, for the Guarani, the light of the crescent moon is the brightness of the moon of their leader Sepé Tiaraju, illuminating the way for his soldiers to face the colonialist destroyers. There is an oral legend among them that their chief, the Corregidor of São Miguel, was born with a lunar sign engraved on his forehead and that on nights with a crescent and full moon it lit up showing the way to his soldiers.
This Tuesday (7), according to the white people’s history, would have been the 267th anniversary of the death of Sepé Tiaraju, in a town of São Gabriel near the site of the Battle of Caiboate. Where 1,500 Guaranis who fought in defense of their land, their agricultural crops and their cattle were decimated, resisting the Portuguese and Spanish armies, in one of the first genocides in our history. History calls it a battle, I prefer to call it a massacre, there were only ten casualties among the conquering armies.
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But it was not a victory. For the Guarani, their heroes do not die, “they are seen for the last time”. The caciques and shamans who arrive at those places to revere them still manage to see the battles and their leadership on a horse towards the sky. The cry, “This land has an owner, it was given to us by Nhandeju so that we could take care of it and feed our people”, is still heard from the mouths of thousands of landless peasants and workers, for whom land is not a commodity, but a mother , tasked with nurturing its gardeners. A chief once speaking to the whites said: “you sell your mother, rent your mother, poison your mother, hurt your mother by making her produce bad things”.
Although Catholics are now wanting to canonize Sepé, for hundreds of years he has already been considered a saint by his original brothers, and by the poor of Rio Grande do Sul. It was not by chance that the city of São Sepé got its name.
Popular religiosity knows who it sanctifies. There are hundreds of saints in missionary territory. Maria do Carmo, the prostitute sanctified in São Borja for protecting her beloved, is venerated with candles and prayers on the tomb next to the 2ºRC Mec headquarters and is already the name of a neighborhood in that city.
Gauchito Gil, sanctified by Correntinos and Argentine missionaries, is venerated in small oratories on the side of the roads, little houses decorated with red scarves. Gauchito Gil keeps promises even today. They say that he was a bandit who robbed rich ranchers to feed the residents of the sheds.
Negrinho do Pastoreio, the legendary negrinho, the godson of Our Lady who looks for the horses of the evil boss and also finds objects lost by people who make promises to him.
Therefore, by canonizing Sepé Tiaraju, Pope Francis will only be acknowledging the sanctity attributed to him for more than a century.
* Walmaro Paz is a journalist
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s view does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brazil in fact.
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Marcelo Ferreira
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