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São Sebastião, São Paulo State (Brazil)

Last modified: 2013-03-02 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sao paulo | são sebastião |
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São Sebastião, SP (Brazil) image by Dirk Schönberger, 8 February 2013
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Description of the Flag

A white flag with a narrow yellow-green border with the municipal arms in the centre.

Official website at
Dirk Schönberger, 8 February 2013

The municipality of São Sebastião (73,833 inhabitants in 2010; 40,334 ha) is located on the northern shore of São Paulo State, 200 km of São Paulo. Located on the mainland, the town is separated from São Sebastião island, the site of the municipality of Ilhabelha, by the São Sebastião Channel (3 km in width).

São Sebastião was one of the first settlements established on the Brazilian coast, elevated to a village in 1636. The town was named in honor of the saint’s of the day (20 January) in that passed the expedition of Américo Vespúcio in 1502. The settlement was formed as a result of the occupation of lands by Portuguese coming from the town of Santos. Before the Portuguese colonization, the region was occupied by Indians Tupinambás to the north and Tupiniquins to the south, being the Serra of Boiçucanga a natural border of the lands. The African slaves also played an important role in the development of São Sebastião; in 1798, the town had more than 2,300 slaves. - Official tourist's website

The symbols of São Sebastião are prescribed in Article 3 of the Municipal Constitution, adopted on 5 April 1990, as "the flag, the coat of arms and the anthem prescribed by Municipal Law." - Municipal Constitution

The flag is white with a green (inner) and yellow (outer) border. In the middle of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms.

Photos of the flag

The coat of arms is prescribed by Municipal Law No. 19 of 18 August 1969. The classic, Flemish-Iberic shield, also known as "Portuguese shield", evokes the Lusitanian origin of people. The eight-towered mural crown argent is a symbol of municipal autonomy, representing here a second-rank town, seat of a "comarca". Azure is a symbol of justice, nobleness, perseverance and loyalty. The shield displays a scene featuring a cannon shooting at a privateer's ship, evoking the contribution of São Sebastião to the defense of the national territory against the French and Dutch privateers in the 17th-18th centuries. The cannon shoots from a fortress on which is hoisted a three-forked white flag charged with the Cross of the Order of Christ. The five escutcheons in chief have the following meaning: - 1. Per fess, azure a sun or, chequered or and azure (Ortiz and Cotrim), evoking the founders of the town, Francisco de Escobar Ortiz and his wife Ignes de Oliveira Cotrim; - 2. Per fess, or a lion's claw ("unha") gules, gules a wing (Unhate and Abreu), recalling the early owners of the domain of São Sebastião, Diogo de Unhate and João de Abreu; - 3. Central, biggest escutcheon, azure three arrows argent pointed gules, representing St. Sebastian, the town's patron saint and namesake; - 4. Per fess, vert a fleur-de-lis or, argent a cross gules (Ortiz and Bocarro), representing the pioneers João Leite da Silva Ortiz and Estevam Raposo Bocarro; - 5. Per fess, azure an orb or, argent three roundels azure (Fialho and Dória), recalling Father João de Faria Fialho, one of the discoverers of the Minas Gerais gold deposits, and Father Manuel de Faria Dória, who evangelized the region. The shield is supported dexter by a pioneer and sinister by a Portuguese soldier, standing on sugarcanes recalling the first industry in the region. Beneath the shield, a scroll azure is inscribed with the Latin motto "PAVLISTARVM VIGILARIVS" (Paulista Watcher), recalling that São Sebastião watched the Paulista littoral during the Cisplatine War (aka First Argentine-Brazilian War, 1825-1828). - Municipal website

The historian Pedro Taques Paes Leme considers that Francisco de Escobar Ortiz and Ignes de Oliveira Cotrim are the founders of Vila da Ilha de São Sebastião, subsequently renamed Vila de São Sebastião da Terra Firme ("on mainland") and, eventually, Vila de São Sebastião. São Sebastião was indeed established in 1636, by secession from Vila do Porto do Santos. Ortiz and his wife, after a failed attempt to settle in Vitória Island (Espírito Santo), were granted the São Sebastião Island. Escobar built the first two sugarmills on the island and was the first Councillor of Vila da Ilha de São Sebastião. Its main source of income, however, was slavery. The historian José Jacinto Ribeiro believes that Diogo de Unhate and João de Abreu are the "founders" of Vila de São Sebastião. Portuguese bureaucrats established in Vila do Porto de Santos, they were granted pieces of land on the mainland side of São Sebastião Channel as a reward for their support to the Portuguese Court against foreign and native invaders. The pioneers João Leite da Silva Ortiz and Estevam Raposo Bocarro were born from a noted family of São Sebastião Island. They were involved in the 17th-18th centuries in expeditions organized in the Captaincy of São Vicente (today, São Paulo) to capture natives or to find gold deposits. Father João de Faria Fialho, also borne in São Sebastião Island, was a main discoverer of gold deposits in Minas Gerais. Father Manuel de Faria Dória, born in São Sebastião, was elected at the Provincial Assembly; he led the building of the old "Dória Road", inaugurated in 1832, which linked São Sebastião to São José do Paraitinga (today, Salesópolis). - Nivaldo Simões, "Jornal Canal Aberto" website
Ivan Sache, 10 February 2013