Cruz Do Patrão (Master’s Cross)

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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The ‘Cruz do Patrão’ (Master’s Cross), built on the isthmus that connects Recife to Olinda, is located north of Fort Brumand south of Fortaleza do Buraco(“Hole Fortress”), which was built by the Dutch in the 17thCentury and no longer exists. The Master’s Cross consists of a heavy and high Doric column, made of masonry, six metres high and two metres wide, having a stone crosson top.

The original cross was made of wood, and according to Pereira da Costa, the monument was built in the early nineteenth century, possibly in 1814, to serve as a beacon for ships entering the port of Recife. The name indicates ‘master chief’ or‘master of the ship’.

According to tradition, the site is considered haunted because it’s the place where the slaves who died on their arrival from Africa were buried. Also, for being in an isolated place, various murders and shootings occurred in its vicinity.

People going from Recife to Olinda at night avoided passing by the Master’s Crossdue to the general belief that if they did, they would hear anguished cries, they would see ghosts or would be chased by evil spirits.

Gilberto Freyre, in his book Guia prático, histórico e sentimental da cidade do Recife(Practical, Historical and Sentimental Guide to Recife), says that in colonial times, at the place where the Crossnow stands, slaves gathered to perform ‘catimbo’(an Afro-Brazilian religious ritual) and that the devil appeared one time,grabbed a “fat black woman and disappeared with her ​​in the middle of water. All this, amidbursts and strong stench of sulphur.”

Mary Graham, an English woman who visited Recife, wrote in her travel book about 19th-century Brazil that she saw badly buried corpsesat the place, with feet and legs sticking out of the ground.

During the Second World War, the 2ndIndependent Company of Guards was commissioned to protect the port against the Germans. Due to the place’s hauntings,the soldiers feared guarding the Master’s Crossmorethan the potential German intruders.

Recife, 10 eptember 20003.
(Updated on 24 august 2009).
(Update on 7 de october 2016).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.

A CRUZ do Patrão. Suplemento Cultural D. O. PE, Recife, ano 16, p. 10, abr. 2002.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife: estátuas e bustos, igrejas e prédios, lápides, placas e inscrições históricas do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977. p. 36-37.

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Cruz do Patrão. Cozinha amazônica. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009

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