Coupé and Leibman
Freemasons who lived as Catholics—and their families—would endure a more stigmatized existence within their congregation. A Mason’s child was bound for an ignominious subaltern baptism and the parent’s were in peril of being buried in the unconsecrated “pigsty.” Many Catholic and Protestant Masons protested the baptismal regulations and several of their Catholics brought their children to Protestant vicars for the service.64 Allen describes how many members of the Catholic Church on Curaçao, seeking to avoid the shame of a burial in the chiké, entrusted their mortal remains to the Protestant Church.65 Masonic Catholics could go one step further and seek interment at the cemetery of the Protestant elite, frustrating the Catholic clergy’s attempts to make Masons into undesirables. Conclusion The dissimilar layouts, overall expense, style, and preservation of Curaçao’s cemeteries reveal the way that religio-cultural beliefs impact burial practice. Even so, class status and social position often motivated Curaçaoans to commemorate the dead in ways that cut across, and in some cases even defied, religious associations. The wealthy and powerful residents of Curaçao, Jew and Gentile alike, evince a continued desire for their social distinction within their own congregation. For the “higher” Protestants, whose beliefs permitted it, the answer was separation—in the form of either a plantation kin lot for early colonists or a Masonic burial for their later counterparts. The ornate carvings of Biblical namesakes, towering gothic monuments, and Italian marble of Beit Haim Blenheim and Beit Haim Berg Altena affirm that the cream of the Jewish community used cemeteries to display social status. Likewise, to avoid degrading variations of burial and other religious rites, erstwhile Catholics turned to those outside their denomination in the pursuit of a respectable repose for their earthly remains. Curaçao’s cities of the dead reflect the island’s complicated racial and religious history, as well as the ties that bound and split the community. Acknowledgments This paper would not be possible without funding from a Ruby Grant. We are also grateful to the following individuals and organizations for answering our questions and/or allowing us access to their collections: Esther van Haaren-Hart, Curator of the S.A.L. (Mongui) Maduro Foundation Library; Myrna Moreno, Curator of the Jewish Historical Cultural Museum, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel; Alan Benjamin; and Mr. and Mrs. Naarden of the Maritime Museum.
Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies