Pagar uma promessa : an anthropological study of the Catholic pilgrimage to Fatima
This thesis examines the phenomenon of the Fatima (Portugal) pilgrimage as an "arena for different discourses". Pilgrimage involves not only a journey to a sacred place but also the clergy. From the beginning the clergy authorise the shrine and try to control almost all the activities, rituals and profane activities alike, that take place throughout its history. Pilgrims, as the most important actors in any pilgrimage, have different goals and expectations both from the shrine and the members of the clergy. The thesis tries to uncover the silent disputes between the two parties and how they manage (or fail) to achieve their purposes. Pilgrimage stimulates economic exchange as well as religious exchange in the economy of salvation. Owing to the influx of vast numbers of pilgrims at a (usually) small and out-of-the-way place, the pilgrimage shrines also attract business-minded people who are engaged in hotel, restaurant and selling articles of religious devotion businesses. In time, these shop-keepers, along with devotees who choose to settle down near the shrines, become the inhabitants of pilgrimage towns. Their discourse is also different from that of the clergy and pilgrims. The devotees, as permanent residents of the town, have gradually become aware of the fact that Fatima is not "Paradise found". They witness some attitudes of the clergy of which they disapprove, such as the pilgrims' business-like contracts with the Virgin Mary or the greediness of the businessmen in the town. By studying the Fatima pilgrimage from this theoretical point of view, the thesis does not exclude the historical socio-cultural circumstances in which the pilgrimage appears to be a political instrument which could at times be used against the secular authorities and yet, at others, may be used to put the people under control by secular authorities. The thesis concludes, in agreement with John Eade and Michael Sallnow (Contesting the Sacred, 1990), that pilgrimage is a realm of both official co-optation and non-official recovery of religious meanings.