The Hemisphere: Visions & Vengeance

Among Latin America's Roman Catholics, the cult of the saint plays a more vivid role in people's lives than the Mass itself. The feast days honoring patron saints often surpass Christmas in religious fervor, and shrines and grottoes, where miracle seekers pray to their saints, dot the landscape. The church often has to discourage believers in supposed miracles and newly "sainted" beings. Sometimes, as in Brazil last week, this eagerness to accept new visions takes a macabre turn.

The Rise. Constantino de Castro Ribeiro was a clever and ambitious youth of 17 when he...

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