INTRODUCTION
Iconic images of a communion wafer soaked in Christ’s blood; a reli
leader’sseveredheadaffixedtoaspikeandparadedthroughthestreetsofS
dor, Bahia; and nearly half of the entire Brazilian army pitted against a red
of starving yet determined rebels. It is little wonder that millenarian stru
have riveted the attention of everyday Brazilians and a host of internat
scholars and artists. For the most part people have been drawn to the larg
dramaticturn-of-the-twentieth-centurymovementsof Juazeiro,Canudos
Contestado.1
While I share this interest, I treat these three movements
secondarilyandinthecontextofasmallerandless-knownmovementfou
in the late 1930s by the penitent Pedro Batista.
The Pedro Batista Movement
After years of battling a mysterious and debilitating illness, Pedro Batist
dayarose from his sickbed, drawn to the religious text MissãoAbreviada. G
ing down at a drawing of Jesus praying at the foot of an angel, Batist
perienced a sudden calling to return to his native Northeastern Brazil in
to preach about the impending apocalypse. Thus the middle-aged man
earlier had been a soldier, sailor, stevedore, and farmer now turned his
to preaching.
In 1938 Batista headed on a penitential journey on foot from Southern
zil northward where he crisscrossed the rugged Northeast
backlands.2
he healed the sick and warned about the apocalypse; he also dispense
vice about attaining salvation: ‘‘Hewho drinks, stop drinking; hewho sm
stop smoking, practice acts of penitence, and cast off your life of sin; fo
g
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