Studies of Catholicism and Pilgrimage in Brazil: Continuities and Ruptures over the Long-term
My objective in this chapter is to present a brief survey of the literature on pilgrimage in Brazil, highlighting the main authors and works that contribute to its interpretation. This survey will be preceded, though, by a historical and sociological contextualization of Catholicism. This choice is impelled by the fact that Catholicism is the dominant religion in the country, although this hegemony has declined significantly over recent years. Especially in the first centuries of its history, Catholicism had a grassroots and structuring presence in Brazilian culture and society. This Catholicism, for its part, took the sanctuaries as its main organizational structure and the practice of pilgrimage as the ideal for Christian life. Examining this history becomes essential to locating the studies of pilgrimages and Catholicism in the social sciences in Brazil. I argue that the historical transformations of Catholicism provide important clues to understanding the analytic and interpretative trajectories shaping the study of Catholic pilgrimage by Brazilian social scientists.