Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Saint of Urgent Causes - Santo Expedito - São Paulo

Almost every afternoon as I drive through Largo da Batata (the Potato Square) on the way to pick up my kids, there is a little man who scurries up to my car at the traffic light near the metro. Before I can shake my head, he is sticking this little paper about the size of a business card under my windshield wiper, then he comes to my window, raps on it with a 50 centavo coin (seriously I think it is always the same coin) and rubs his other fingers together asking me for a donation. I don't open my window; he scurries away on to the next car. 

This paper says "The Prayer of the the Key of Saint Expedito"and at the bottom is the explanation "The Saint of Urgent Causes." A little research shows that Santo Expedito is very popular in Brazil since the 1980s, but no one knows anything about why (okay when I say no one, I mean wikipedia, which is the same thing) he is a saint or how he lived or how he died. This gives me hope for some day being canonized by the Catholic church though I am not Catholic nor have I done much good. Perhaps in 400 years I will get to be a saint anyway. Maybe I could be the Saint of Elephants and Key Makers.

Key Makers? What? Well, yes, Santo Expedito has been adopted by the chaveiros or key makers of Brazil as their patron saint as well. Now that I read this, I remember seeing him in our local key-making place. Not him, mind you, but his likeness. He is the key saint. And urgent causes saint. And apparently, again according to the tried and true text of wikipedia, he has also been adopted by the "slacker generation" as the patron saint of exams. This seems a bit ironic, no? The expedited guy is "the man" for the slackers? Hmmm. Something to emulate? Not sure. 

Note to self: Adopt patron saint. Not this one.

Okay, moving on. When you flip over the little paper, there is more to the prayer:

I'm not going to try to translate this devotional though I have to say that I love seeing "vossa" which is the third person formal of "your." You never see it anymore in Brazil, unless referring with great respect to an elder.  In the red writing is the explanation that this person who gave me the paper has printed 1000 of these prayers to help "propagate" the benefits and devotion to the "powerful" Santo Expedito. King of Keys. Ah, and at the bottom, you can order your own prayer cards and you get two blessed keys with your order. Why am I slightly tempted? 

Street life. I love it.

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