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The Black Virgin: Santa Efigenia, Popular Religion, and the African Diaspora in Peru
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 August 2012
This article sketches an archeology of the apocryphal myth of Santa Efigenia, the Ethiopian virgin saint celebrated in the southern coastal of valley of Cañete, Peru. The history of Santa Efigenia is used to analyze the invention of popular myths and processions in a rural community in contrast to the cornerstone of popular national religiosity in Peru, the Lord of the Miracles (Señor de los Milagros). The popular worship and diffusion of these devotions and processions intersect with the contested formation of national identity in early and late twentieth century Peru. Moreover, they speak to how traditional and popular forms of religious worship are valued and devalued.
The African diaspora in Peru and the Pacific coast of South America has been difficult to historicize because of the scant cultural evidence for an Afro-Andean nostalgia or separation from an African homeland. The rediscovery and devotion of Santa Efigenia and her emergent popularity in Peru and larger presence in Brazil and Cuba is compelling evidence that Afro-Peruvians have a direct connection with African culture and history and the early religious history of Catholic saints and virgins.
- Research Article
- Church History , Volume 81 , Issue 3 , September 2012 , pp. 631 - 655
- Copyright © American Society of Church History 2012
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