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Padre Cícero Romão Batista

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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Padre Cícero Romão Batista was born on 24 March 1844 in Crato, Ceará, to Joaquim Romão Batista and Joaquina Vicência Romana. He was baptised on 8 April by Padre Manoel Joaquim Aires do Nascimento, having as godparents his paternal grandfather Romão José Batista and a maternal aunt, Antônia Ferreira Catão.

Aged 7, he began to study with teacher Rufino de Alcântara Montezuma and made his first communion at the Crato parish church. At the age of 12, he began to study Latin with Padre João Marrocos Teles, Latin chair professor, through public contest created in Crato by Emperor D. Pedro I, and at this age took a vow of chastity, influenced by literature on the life of St Francis de Sales, as he himself attested. His father, aware of his progress in the regal class of João Marrocos, enrolled him in the famous college of Padre Inácio de Sousa Rolim in Cajazeiras, Paraíba. In 1862 his studies were interrupted and he returned to Crato to take care of his mother and unmarried sisters after the unexpected death of his father from cholera.

In March 1865, he entered the Fortaleza Seminary to pursue an ecclesiastical career, where he was ordained in November 1870. Returning to Crato in 1871, he gave his first mass at the altar of Nossa Senhora da Penha (Our Lady of Mercy), in the Crato Parish Church and during this year was a teacher at the high school founded there by José Marrocos. In April 1872, at the age of 28, he moved to the settlement of Juazeiro, where he established his permanent residence.
He began improvements to the Juazeiro chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, the patron saint of the area, where he developed his pastoral work, winning the respect of the community from then on.

In 1889, the first manifestation of miraculous powers attributed to him occurred when the Host placed in the mouth of the Beata Maria de Araújo transformed into blood. Dr Marcos Madeira declared the phenomena of the Hosts transforming into blood seen and studied by him to be supernatural. He was summoned to Fortaleza by Bp Dom Joaquim José Vieira for a HOLY INQUIRY on what had occurred in Juazeiro, where a first Commission of Inquiry had been sent that confirmed what was happening and sent a report to the bishop considering all the phenomena as being divine. The bishop neither accepted nor believed the report, appointing another Commission of Inquiry, headed by Mons. Antonio Alexandrino de Alencar, who ordered the Beata Maria de Araújo to be sent to Crato. Upon administering the Host to her, it no longer transformed into blood. The Commission made a report that belied everything, considered the occurrence in Juazeiro a hoax and sent it to the bishop who accepted it, signing an ordinance that stipulated the following sanctions against Padre Cícero: he could no longer celebrate mass in Juazeiro, offer confession or preach in the diocese. He was also strictly forbidden to talk about the subject of miracles and to attend pilgrims.

Padre Cícero then travelled to Rome, where he had an audience with Pope Leon XII and was absolved of his sins. However the Bishop of Ceará, Dom Joaquim Vieira, published his pastoral nº 4, deciding that the clergyman could not celebrate mass, give confession or preach sermons as the rehabilitation decree had not arrived from Rome.

Prohibited from carrying out his ecclesiastical duties, he tried to help the people of Juazeiro by entering into political life. With the transformation of Juazeiro into a municipality, he was named Mayor of Juazeiro by the Governor of Ceará, Nogueira Acioli. In 1914, the Legislative Assembly of Ceará met and, with a majority, recognised Padre Cícero as 1st Vice-Governor of the State.

In 1916 he received permission from the new bishop of the Crato diocese, Dom Quintino Rodrigues de Oliveira e Silva, to celebrate mass at Nossa Senhora das Dores (Our Lady of Sorrows) Church, after 24 years of prohibition. The return to celebrating mass began a greater number of pilgrims coming. Some merchants had ordered the manufacture of medallions with his effigy on them which did not please the new bishop. When he sought authorisation from Dom Quintino to be the godfather of a child he was to baptise, the bishop, dissatisfied with the news that medallions with the Priest’s portrait on them were being sold, denied authorisation for being a godparent and decided that, from then on, he could no longer celebrate mass.

Hurt, he did not rebel or react. He humbly accepted the bishop’s decision and dedicated himself completely to the town of Juazeiro. He was a famous name, a leader of the people of Northeast Brazil and an advisor to millions of people. The people loved their longsuffering godfather. He died on 20 July 1934, at 5:00am, aged 90, and was buried on 21 July in the presence of over 70 thousand people.


 
Recife, 15 July 2003.
Updated on 16 September 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
Updated on 02 april 2018.

 

 

SOURCES CONSULTED:

 

 

BARBOSA, Geraldo Menezes. História do padre Cícero ao alcance de todos. Juazeiro do Norte:Edições ICVC, 1992. 166p.
 
OLIVEIRA, Amália Xavier de. O Padre Cícero que eu conheci: a verdadeira história de Juazeiro do Norte. 3.ed. Recife: FJN. Ed. Massangana, 1981. 344p.

 

 

HOW TO CITE THIS TEXT:

 

 

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Padre Cícero Romão Batista. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.

 

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