Who said S. Francesco is only worshipped in Italy? The most Italian of the Italian Saints is also “property” of a small town in Brazil’s countryside. People go there by the millions to pay tribute (and money…) to their Saviour, hoping to find in the omnipresent images of his bleeding wounds some solace for their souls and bodies.
Canindé is a small city located in the heart of the sertão, a semi-desert region of northeastern Brazil. It would be a quiet and anonymous provincial town were it not that every year it hosts the second largest pilgrimage in the world dedicated to the figure of St. Francis of Assisi.
In October, an immense multitude of devotees invades the city, coming from the most remote corners of that region, traditionally very Catholic. These are humble people who demonstrate their faith with practices typical of the local religious culture: if on the one hand they accept the dogmas imposed by the Church, on the other they do not renounce their heritage of traditions, where faith is confused with superstitions and popular beliefs. During the days of the feast of San Francesco, Canindé is transformed into a living picture of that popular Catholicism which has made devotion to the Saints the fulcrum of its religious universe, guaranteeing with it the impulse to spread official Catholicism.
In this scenario, photography also lives its moment of protagonism: itinerant photographers looking for customers, pilgrims and onlookers with their inevitable selfies, until it finds itself consecrated as an object of faith, in the hands of the many devotees who offer images of all kinds as “ex-voto” to the Saint. I attended and photographed this pilgrimage for four years together with Dario De Dominicis. Struck by its visual power and intrigued by the connected social phenomenon, we photographically explored this event from 2013 through 2017.Watch the documentary
Um outro Francisco
That experience was the object of the documentary movie "Um outro Francisco" ("Another Francis"): a full-length film about the surprising veneration of the Italian Saint Francis of Assisi in northeastern Brazil. A collaborative photographic project with Dario De Dominicis, filmed for 4 years by the Cuban-Brazilian director Margarita Hernandez on behalf of Bucanero Film and Globo Film of Brazil.