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Missa dos Vaqueiros - Mata de São João

Mass of the Cowboy,

a country tradition

The Missa do Vaqueiro is a new tradition in Mata de São João. With two years of existence, the ceremony brings aspects of the Mass held in Serrita, city of origin of the custom; and Piranhas, where the tradition began in 1991. The length of the mass does not diminish the importance of the event for the rural community of Mata de São João, composed of people who cultivate faith in God and the custom of activities such as horseback riding, vaquejada, ringlet among others.

Report: Kithi & Edvaldo Passos

Arrival in JK and interview with the cowboy Antônio Suadeira

On February 10, when we arrived at the Park of Vaquejada Dr. Sérgio Mora Costa, at 10:30 am, in JK, a village belonging to the municipality of Mata de São João, 10km away from the city center, everything was already organized for the celebration of the Mass of the Cowboy.

The Missa do Vaqueiro, as we experienced it, is a recent celebration in the municipality,

however, the meeting of cowboys and amazons takes place every weekend.

We arrived early and while we waited I remembered my childhood with my grandfather, when riding a horse was almost a daily practice.

Cavalgada Muritiba 1980 .jpg

Look at me guys! How much

time ... Me, my father and my cousins ​​participating in the horseback riding, one of the traditions of Muritiba, city of Bahia where I lived until I was 16 years old.

Mata de São João reminds me of so many beautiful things from my childhood ... Act heart!


Mr. Antônio Suadeira, a cowboy, lent me the Black Bird, which to my surprise has the same name as our magazine! Assume black, black bird, grain ... names of the same bird! Some scientists warn that there are differences, but for the lay community they are all the same! They differ in size, but the singing is always melodious and very good to hear.

Canto do Assum Preto -
00:00 / 00:00

Riding on Black Bird I “flew” free of thoughts. It was just communion!

The ladies selling delicacies, the huge bean pot with a delicious smell, the stage for the mass and later presentation of the bands invited to liven up the celebration. Everything was in its proper place!

The delicacies of the Cowboy Mass

Maria das Graças or Ni, as she is known to everyone in the region, is the great mentor of the party.


Born on the day of Our Lady of Aparecida, October 12, Ni has always followed the tradition of her grandmother, devoted to the cowboy's soul, who before her death gave her granddaughter the mission of continuing with devotion.

She continued to celebrate in the church until Father Pedro arrived two years ago. He informed that the correct way to celebrate the cowboy's soul would be with the presence of horsemen and Amazons.


It was then that Ni started to organize the party with the help of the community and thus the tradition is born!

“Cowboy who is a cowboy, tame the cattle and wants well. Every day he goes to the field, and tells the cattle he has. Anyone who doesn't like cowboys doesn't like anyone else. Oh! Cattle party! Hey, ox! ” (aboio by Mr. Leonel Santos)

Ni telling the story of the party

André Avena speaks of the importance of tradition

Professor José speaks of JK's Cowboy Mass

Father Pedro comes close to noon. Wisely changes the location of the Mass due to the intensity of the sun. The aboio is sung and the mass of the cowboys begins.

The poetry of the aboio is made with the passages of the day-to-day or of the moment. The singer tells what he observes, what he experiences.

As Mr. Seu Leonel José dos Santos, 86, says, a cowboy from the bands of São José dos Ramos, in Paraíba: aboio “is the song that the cattle understand, that the cattle hear, it is a painful, beautiful song ... cowboy singing about three aboio, even cattle are far away, they come ”.


Click on the button below, access the Master's dissertation by researcher Maria Laura de Albuquerque Maurício, where we get Mr. Leonel's phrases, " ABOIO, the song that enchants: an experience with popular poetry sung at school" , and read more about the richness of that corner.

Knowing Brazilian traditions, the priest brings to the celebration diverse songs like Cálix Bento, an adaptation of the revelry of Reis, from Minas Gerais Tavinho Moura and several songs by Luiz Gonzaga.

In the offertory the leather hat is used for the collection of money. The donated food comes in part from the harvest of what was planted. Generally, the cowboy also cultivates the land for his own consumption.

At the end the priest uses a branch of leaves to bless horses, riders and Amazons. She receives Nossa Senhora Aparecida on stage, the patron saint of the party, and the Mass ends with Ave Maria Sertaneja, by Luís Gonzaga.

Fragments of the Cowboy Mass

In the municipality of Mata de São João it is rare to see men “encouraged”, dressed in doublets, leggings, leather hats. How rare it is to see the forest that had to be overcome to catch the stray stray.

Mr. Eduardo, the oldest cowboy in Mata de São João.

Today, the hat is the cap, the clothes are lighter, but the spirit, love and soul of the cowboys continue to follow the same path of harmony with the work of the countryside.

Vaqueiro atual sem vestimenta de couro.jpg

Current cowboy attire

After the mass the horsemen and the Amazons go out to ride and return an hour later to dance to the sound of local bands, drink, eat ... have fun.

Missa dos Vaqueiro - Mata de São João 50.jpg

Beginning of the Tradition of the Cowboy Mass in the Northeast

The Missa dos Vaqueiros is a tradition born in the backlands of Pernambuco after the death of Raimundo Jacó on July 8, 1954.


The cowboy who was treacherously killed, due to the envy of another cowboy, was Luiz Gonzaga's cousin.


The tradition began in 1971, when Father João Câncio said the first mass of the cowboys at the site of the tragedy, Sítio da Lage, caatinga in the municipality of Serrita, located in the high hinterland of Araripe, 553 kilometers from Recife. The place was already visited by pilgrims who claimed to have achieved "miracles" thanks to Raimundo Jacó.


Event idealized by Luiz Gonzaga, who sang the saga of the cowboy. The tribute won the world.

Click on the button and listen to the song that Luiz Gonzaga made for his cousin.

To describe the cowboy Raimundo Jacó, we are going to use the text by Pedro Henrique Moraes Ferreira, present in the concluding monograph of the Law course at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, “A Morte do Vaqueiro”, not a single letter more or less could poetize the man / hero, the cowboy from Pernambuco.

Click on the button and read the full monograph

“The rider came on the roads. People knew: it would be Raimundo Jacó. The retired cowboys ran their hands over their dusty doublets and recalled stories of bravery.


The ladies, still unmarried, screaming called the sisters to see who was coming, with strength and the cattle. They admired from the window. And Sertão was a little happier in those moments. He was more delighted. He greeted everyone, happy and backcountry.


On the head, the round leather hat, decorated and firm. On the chest, the doublet. On the legs, the leggings are encouraged. The hands received the leather gloves. And the feet, old working boots. Sertão suit.


Horse, man, dog. In front, the gadget, screaming. It was a scenario. Picture drawn on the retina of those who saw or imagined the scene.


Each animal, with its history. The man, the main animal, mixed with the others. Rationality divided the species. Commanding human being. But in the end, after the means, the scene was together. And the affection of each animal towards each other brother was beautiful to see.


Raimundo loved his dog, his horse and his livestock. They adored Raimundo Jacó. Perhaps it is the art of love that made this cowboy the most famous in the region. There was no ox that Raimundo did not find lost in the catinga. There was no heifer that could hide the calf from its master cowboy.


Eagle eyes, what did you see through the catfish skyscrapers? Or sensitivity to imagine the transfer of cattle at that moment of camping?


It really seems like conversation between them: man and animal. But prose of heart, of sensitivity and affection. As Guimarães Rosa says:

"Their horse talks whisper-which is said-to give the rider a solid advice, when there is no one else around, able to listen. I believe and I don't believe".

The Missa do Vaqueiro de Serrita takes place every July and is one of the biggest popular festivals in Pernambuco. It has xote, baião, typical food, handicrafts, repentista ... and above all it has the faith that sustains the sertanejo!

The Cowboy Mass in Piranhas

In Piranhas, state of Alagoas, there is also the Missa dos Vaqueiros. In 2000 I followed the tradition and wrote the text below for the Xingó newsletter, a program where I worked as a researcher in the Thematic Area of Environmental Management, Environmental Education and Work.

Missa dos Vaqueiros - Piranhs Velha

The wafer on the day of the Cowboy Mass is transformed into rennet cheese, roasted meat, flour and brown sugar and is served in the cuité de coité

Documentary photo Kithi file

IMG_3237 (1).jpg

Mass of the Vaqueiro in Piranhas, Alagoas, in the year 2000. File photo document: Kithi

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