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São Severino dos Ramos

He freed slaves from barbarians’ hands and performed miracles through his prayers, warding off a locust plague that threatened to wipe out crops during a winter which completely froze the Danube River.

São Severino dos Ramos

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Last update: 17/03/2022

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Specialist in Librarianship

The sources consulted on the history of St. Severinus of Noricum (known in Brazil as São Severino dos Ramos) differ with regard to his date of birth and death, but all show that he was born and died in the 5th century. He was a rich Roman citizen who donated his material assets to the poor and began his monastic life in Egypt and Syria, doing important missionary work in Austria and Yugoslavia. Committed to preaching penance, St. Severinus pacified the barbarians who threatened to destroy Christian colonies.

He freed slaves from barbarians’ hands and performed miracles through his prayers, warding off a locust plague that threatened to wipe out crops during a winter which completely froze the Danube River. He walked barefoot and had only one meal a week. Information about this man, considered a saint and respected by many, is inaccurate. A few years after his death, his body was taken to Naples, in which the great church of Santi Severino e Sossio was built as a sanctuary for his relics.

Brazil also has a Shrine in honor of Severinus of Noricum. Historian Aline Pereira claims that, according to oral tradition, the Saint’s would have been brought from Europe as a gift from a priest to his mother who formerly owned Engenho Ramos. News spread of a miraculous corpse buried at the site, attracting people to visit it and perform their devotional practices and pray for miracles.

The Sanctuary in honor of St. Severinus is in the Capela de Nossa Senhora da Luz (Chapel of Our Lady of Light), nowadays better known as Igreja de São Severino (St. Severinus’ Church), in the lands of the former Engenho Ramos (deactivated in the 1920s), located in Paudalho, a municipality in the Pernambucan zona da Mata, 47 km from Recife, capital of the state.

The first accounts of miracles attributed to Severinus of Noricum date back to the mid-19th century. The saint became known as São Severino do Ramos, a name which implied (Engenho) Ramos. Some disagree with this change, favoring “do Ramo” or ”dos Ramos”.

It is difficult to specify on what date pilgrims began to flow into the Capela de Nossa Senhora da Luz, more precisely to the side altar of the Chapel containing the miraculous life-size image of St. Severinus lying on his back.

The chapel was expanded to better meet the number of pilgrims who increased daily. There is an attached building, called the house of miracles, intended to exhibit ex-votos, an abbreviation of the Latin term ex-vote suscepto, i.e., “from the vow made”. The term refers to paintings, statuettes, and various objects donated to the deities as gratitude for a met request.

When Severino began to be called do Ramos, there was some confusion or association with Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), a religious liturgy preceding the Holy Week, which commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, whom the local population celebrated by wielding tree branches. Thus, pilgrims came to consider Palm Sunday as the best date to honor the Saint, though the day dedicated to him is January 8th.

It is speculated that the Santuário of São Severino do Ramos is, today, the largest pilgrimage center of Pernambuco and the third, in Brazil.

Among the cordel (from literatura de cordel, literally, “string literature.” Popular, cheap booklets produced in the Brazilian Northeast with folk poems, songs, and novels) pamphlets in the region on São Severino do Ramos, we highlight one which belongs to the collection of rare and precious works of the Biblioteca Central Blanche Knopf (Central Library Blanche Knopf) at the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco.

The truth is that São Severino do Ramos has become a very popular saint, especially in Northeastern Brazil. Aline Pereira, in analogy to the poetry The Death and Life of a Severino, by João Cabral de Melo Neto (My name is Severino,/I have no Christian name./There are lots of Severinos/(a saint of pilgrimages) [...] states that São Severino is another “Severino” without identity and origin, like so many Severinos in Brazil. Pilgrims elected São Severino do Ramos as their protector, as the hero who will protect them from all evils.



Recife, March 21, 2011.

sources consulted

ENCICLOPÉDIA BRASILEIRA MÉRITO. São Paulo: Ed. Mérito, 1962. v.18.

INSTITUTO DE DESENVOLVIMENTO DE PERNAMBUCO. Paudalho. Recife: Condepe, 1987. (Monografias municipais, 26).

UM MILAGRE em Paudalho. Available at: http:// Accessed on: 14 fev.2011.

SÃO Severino. Portal Católico. Available at: Accessed on: 14 fev. 2011.

how to quote this text

ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. São Severino do Ramos. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2011. Available at: Accessed on: month day year. (Ex.: Aug. 6 2009.)