Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Goddess Water - Ribeirão Preto

Cute chapel,no?

So, as I mentioned a couple of days ago before Motor Pool Madness, my niece was baptized last Saturday in a small chapel in Ribeirão Preto. I was pre-disposed to being amused by this event because my husband is an agnostic and he was the named godfather. Clearly God was not as amused as he sent us a very flat tire as a message.

In the end, we arrived only 15 minutes late. Everyone was waiting outside for the pastor to make his appearance. Apparently they will only show up after everyone is there. So we milled around a bit and looked at all the other tiny chapels arranged around this parking lot. It was shaded and as cool as Ribeirão can make it on a summer day (ummm, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Finally we went into the chapel, a small group of around 20 people. My niece Julia was not impressed by either her big poofy white dress or being dipped into the bowl of water, but that is no different from any other baby ever. 

Have you ever seen a saint showing some leg? Me neither.
There was only one tense moment when the pastor asked which saint the parents wanted to name as Julia's guardian saint. I saw my sister and brother in law look at each other like deer caught in the headlights. Fortunately, SIL's mom came to the rescue by saying "Nossa Senhora, right?" I assume that this is Nossa Senhora Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil, but I didn't ask. I find that the less I say about religion, the happier we are all going to be. I have been baptized and I went to church as a kid but my ignorance is infinite on saints, baptisms and well, everything including why in the world people were being encouraged to climb up the stone stairs next to the chapel on their knees.  

After the ceremony, they handed out little white net bags with a small bottle of holy baptism water and a cute little photo card of my niece.  One of my 7 year old twins immediately grabbed the bottle, pulled out the stopper and rubbed it on his forehead saying "Great! Goddess water!" Fortunately, this stopped his brother from drinking the water which he was on his way to doing. Last thing that twin wants is to turn into a girl, even a goddess girl.

Goddess water

We stood around and took some photos, and tried to calm an increasingly perturbed baby. The kids wandered off and I soon found them chipping some candle wax off the little outdoor prayer-stone-cross thingy. Sigh. Fortunately, there were no lightning strikes in the area so we got off lightly with the flat tire.

Yes, my kids chipped wax off here.
It was at this point that we made a break for Mr. Beer. I am a believer in pagan beer rituals...but that's a story for tomorrow.


  1. That's interesting. We never got asked about guardian saints for our daughter. You think they would've covered it during the parent/godparent training course. Your husband did attend the course, right?

    As I'm sure you've noticed by now, Brazilian catholics (or as I like to call them, "catholics", since we're the majority :-) ) aren't really that fussed about religion, unlike the usual stereotypes you see in English speaking movies and TV shows. Don't get me wrong, religion is a lot more present day-to-day in Brazil but most people don't get worked up about it one way or the other (apart from the evangelicals, maybe).

    1. You eagle-eyed in on one small detail of my post. My sister-in-law found the one pastor/priest/whatever y'all call it that did not require BH to do a course.

      I was just talking with my dad about "catholicism" in this country. It is pretty relaxed in my eyes, but as I've said, I can't comment on what I know very little about....

    2. Yep, it sounds like you are still in Brazil. We love bureaucracy but there's always a way around it. I missed the date for the course before the christening so I had to promise the priest I would take it afterwards. Which I did. At that really nice church on Avenida Brasil. Where the couples sitting next to me spent more time browsing Etsy on their iPad than paying attention to the course.

      As for no knowing much, welcome to the club. Like I said, most of us aren't really that religious.

  2. I would have gone with Saint Thomas Aquinas, just because I'd love to see the priest's reaction. I doubt he ever heard that one referenced outside of academia.

    Your post caught my eye because it referenced Ribeirão Preto. I have fond memories of two weeks spent there in 1997, but never have had reason to return to visit. Maybe someday down the road.

    1. Hi Adam, ha! Love the Aquinas idea!

      I love RP myself, preferably in the winter when it's not so hot. The USP campus is gorgeous. I guess you were there before the Novo Mercadão got there...see today's post!