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Coupé and Leibman

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that religion’s congregants on the island.48 Catholicism’s status on the island reflects this history. Despite the many initiatives taken by the Catholic Church to alleviate poverty, the Church was called “the Church of the poor” and association with it was considered by some to be deleterious to one’s social standing.49 Due to their cursory indoctrination into Catholicism and the limited interaction with clergy they experienced on the island, Afro-Curaçaoans combined traditional African beliefs with their new observances. Thus, Afro-Curaçaoan burial practices reflect a variety of religio-cultural practices (Fig. 12). What developed in some places was a unique brand of Catholic practice and ritual in a species of creole religion. Patron saints became thinly-veiled African deities, old notions of ritual impurity persisted, as did certain customs and ceremonies—all to the chagrin of the Roman Catholic priests who considered such practices “vicious and uncivilized.”50

Fig. 12. Statue of Jesus with eyes and heart painted turquoise. Catholic Cemetery, Berg Altena

For Afro-Curaçaoans, one’s relationship to the Church impacted how one was buried. Devout Afro-Curaçaoan Catholics could expect an education, the admission of their daughters to the nunnery, and the right to receive Church land and legal aid.51 Another reward for a dutiful

Profile for Chris Davis

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Profile for cvdavis
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