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This old Catholic ritual is giving Brazil’s economy a little boost, one Virgin Mary statuette at the same time

Brazilians are leaving Catholicism. Today, less than 50 percent of Brazilians identify as Roman Catholic, down from 92 percent in 1970. But after 500 years in SOUTH USA, the Catholic Church remains deeply enmeshed Brazils economy and society.

Among its many footholds is really a little-known tradition called the Movimento das Capelinhas, or small chapel movement. This phenomenon, which occurs in a huge selection of cities and towns across Brazil, centers around the circulation among Catholic households of small sanctuaries containing a Virgin Mary statuette.

Alternative economies increasing

The Movimento das Capelinhas can be an exemplory case of a circulation-based collaborative network, some sort of hyper-local economy that’s popping up around the world, from one London districts alternative currency to the time banks of New Zealand.

Such systems appeal since they exchange a narrow concentrate on economic value (only money matters) for a broader definition of what has value to people. By circulating dear objects in a particular pattern, these collaborative networks distribute their advantages to all involved, and the profit goes well beyond the tiny economic bump communities could see.

The tiny chapel movement forms section of an extended history of Roman Catholic rituals involving sacred relics and statues delivered to tour the worlds parishes.

Protected by their wooden homes, Brazils moving Marys pay one-day visits to various parishioners homes in a semi-formal process dependant on neighbors, parishes and lay volunteers. Most chapel groups include about 30 families, in a way that each family receives one search for a month. Local clergy oversee the Marys progress around town.

Mary pays a trip to a house in Campos Novos. Daiane Scaraboto

In doing their rounds, our research found, these peripatetic chapels do a lot more than just physically circulate their travels actually create profit and value for participants. The outcome is really a de facto local Catholic economy, one predicated on shared values instead of money.

Rituals and relics

To comprehend the economic impact of the favorite small chapel tradition, we spent 2 yrs studying the Marys circulation in two southern Brazilian cities: Curitiba, which includes 1.76 million residents; and Campos Novos, a little town southwest of there.

Our study, that was published in February in the Journal of Macromarketing, found differences in the size and organizational degree of each citys small chapel movements. However in both places, everyone in this ritual receives some type of benefit, be it economic, spiritual or social creating whats called hybrid value systems.

Curitibas system is well-coordinated by the church, with approximately 100 volunteer mensageiras (messengers) who steward around 10,000 small chapels from household to household.

Mensageiras, or messengers, at Mass in Curitiba. Daiane Scaraboto

In Campos Novos, which includes 32,800 inhabitants, the marketplace was less robust. Approximately 100 Marys circulate among local Catholics, overseen by a comparable amount of mensageiras.

For participating communities in both cities, the result of the moving chapels would be to create an alternative economy, one based not on traditional capitalist values but on participation, community and faith.

Money does, needless to say, play some role. Households make monetary donations to the Catholic Church for the honor of hosting a chapel. Some small capelinhas even come built with their very own coin slot.

In Curitiba, we discovered that these small contributions earn the church about 1.5 million Brazilian reals (approximately US$500,000) each year. In Campos Novos, the churchs profit was considerably less, likely garnering the neighborhood archdiocese just thousands of reals.

Historic downtown Curitiba, where 10,000 Mary statuettes circulate each day among thousands of households. Francisco Anzola/flickr, CC BY

Money cant buy you faith

Host families and community members see less tangible but equally valuable advantages from the traveling Marys.

For lay mensageiras, its social status: Working as your neighborhoods representative of the church is really a prestigious role. Likewise for the families, parishes and communities interconnected by the standard visitation of the small chapels.

There exists a spiritual value, too. For Catholics, Mary, because the mother of Jesus Christ, is among the most effective holy figures, and recipients of the tiny chapels that house her feel blessed by their usage of divinity, support and all the best.

The Brazilian Catholic church carefully manages this facet of the chapel visits, presenting them as a way to obtain comfort. The Marys move, says Church doctrine, and in doing this sustain their devotees emotionally.

The capelinhas often turn into a favored local symbol of these family group, transcending their religious significance to be, simply, beloved and familiar objects.

The Curitiba archdiosceses Movimento das Capelinhas Facebook page and blog reveals host families, messengers and priests celebrate the traveling Marys. After one family posts in regards to a chapels arrival with their home, other commentators excitedly retell their visitation stories.

A screenshot of the Facebook page focused on the circulation of the Virgin Mary chapels in Curitiba.

The church also takes to Facebook also to the pulpit to identify the volunteers who help circulate the chapels, even honoring them in special Masses. Lauding participants in the tiny chapel movement gives them a particular social status, or what we call reputational value another benefit developed by this alternative economy.

The church actively promotes the social and reputational value of the Marys. Whenever a new church opens around, for example, the tiny chapels will undoubtedly be given new circulation routes as a welcome to new parishioners.

Priests in Curitiba train and mentor the tiny chapel messengers, assisting to make sure that the Marys circulate with techniques that mutually benefit all participants, either economically, spiritually, socially or on multiple levels.

One kind of value often results in another. Spiritual value becomes economic whenever someone donates to a little chapel, for instance. Then, when this money, subsequently, is used to teach an apprentice priest or even to introduce a fresh route for a little chapel, the worthiness again changes, becoming social or reputational.

Brazils Marys that move might not be in a position to pull Brazil out of its deep recession, but our research reveals these hybrid systems do contain the potential to combat economic malaise, albeit on the neighborhood level, by reminding Catholics that even though money is an issue at this time, friends, family and faith aren’t.

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