St. Benedict of San Fratello (Messina, Sicily): An Afro-Sicilian Hagionym on Three Continents
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Benedetto Manasseri da San Fratello (Messina, Sicily) became the first black canonical saint in 1807. The Sicilian-born son of African parents (1524), was first a hermit, and then a lay friar of the reformed minor order of St. Francis of Assisi. He died in Palermo in 1589. From the beginning of the 17th century his name and cult was connected in Brazil to the Catholic Rosary, together with the name and cult of three other black “saints”: Elesbão/Elisbão (from Abyssinia), Efigênia/Ifigênia (from Nubia), Antônio de Noto/Categeró (an African hermit who died in 1550 in Sicily, as Benedict did). It would be interesting to discuss the development of the four names in the Portuguese of Portugal and in the Portuguese of Brazil. The subject of my paper is the different forms of the names of the first hagionyms on three Continents, Europe, Africa and America: Benedetto da San Fratello (Italy), Benito de Palermo (Spain and Spanish speaking countries in America), Benedito/ Bento (Portugal, Brazil, Angola), and Bieito (Galicia). It is very interesting to notice the Portuguese development from Bento to Benedito in the first half of the 17th century, and the influence of this change on the names of popes in Portuguese, including our present Pope, Benedict XVI.