Noiva do Cordeiro – Commune of Women

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“Maria Senhorinha de Lima, resident of a village called Roças Novas had been married 3 months with the Frenchman Arthur Pierre, when she decided to abandon him to live with the farmer Francisco Augusto Araújo Fernandes. This story, which started at the end of the 19th century, gave birth to the predominantly female rural commune of Noiva do Cordeiro.

The attitude of the Senhorinha, very uncommon for the era, made the couple become the target of prejudice. They were forced to leave Roças Novas when the local population started to treat them as outcasts. Senhorinha and Francisco went to live on an isolated piece of land, where they made a family. The discrimination continued with their descendents, leaving them isolated from the other towns and cities of the region.

The name of the district came about when the pastor Anísio Pereira, around the 1940s, married Delina Fernandes, one of Dona Senhorinha’s grand-daughters. He founded the Noiva do Cordeiro Evangelical Church in the town. The introduction of the Protestant religion was a shock to the residents of the region who were predominantly Catholic.

The rules of the religion were conservative, bringing many restrictions upon the residents, principally the women. At the time, they didn’t have enough food to go around, there were problems with the energy supply and difficulties with transportation. The religious oppression came together with the prejudices that were growing among the neighboring communities. The girls were called prostitutes, the children were discriminated against at school and the men had a hard time finding work. As part of the religion, music was also prohibited in the commune.

During the wedding of one of the local women in the later half of the 20th century, an exception was made to the no-music rule and everyone started to dance, even those who had never heard music nor danced before. From that point on, the group started to reflect on the restrictions of the church and how it made life there difficult.

Unsatisfied, the residents decided to say goodbye to the church in 1990. Where it once stood, today is a bar, a place for encounters, dances and having fun. The group members had started to live without a religion and without formalities. Oppression was substituted with happiness and today the community sells the fruits of its residents’ labor and elects its own city council members. As part of all the changes, the other communities started to accept them as their own, but despite the changes, Noiva do Cordeiro is still a commune where everyone participates in all areas of work, fun and family.”

Check out the documentary (PT) below on the town

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