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Espírito Santo (Brazil)

Last modified: 2014-08-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: espirito santo | brazil | trinidade | martin vaz | trabalha e confio |
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[Flag of Espírito Santo (Brazil)] 7:10 image by Joseph McMillan
Adopted 24 April 1947

See also:

Flag of the State of Espírito Santo

Mário Martins, a Brazilian writer, states that the inscription originates from the motto of the Jesuit order: "Work as if everything depended on you, and trust as if everything depended on God." Despite being an unusual color in heraldry, rose was used by the creators of the flag in order to represent a shade found in the capixaba sky, which, during summer afternoons, presents changing shades of pink mixed with sky blue.
Željko Heimer, March 13, 1996

The Espírito Santo flag dates from 1908 but was adopted officially on 24 April 1947 by Governor Carlos Fernando Montero Lindemberg. The blue and rose are the official colors of the state, instituted by Jerónimo Monteiro on 7 September 1909. Apparently they were the colors of an abolitionist club, as well as those of the dress of the Virgin of the Victory, patron of the capital of the state. The blue represents smoothness and harmony, the white peace, and the rose rejoicing and happiness. The words Trabalha e Confia (Work and Trust [in God]) are attributed to Governor Monteiro. They have to have their origin in his religious training with the Association of São Luis do Itu (São Paulo), directed by the fathers of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) founded by St. Ignatius Loyola.
Jaume Ollé, 28 June 1996

A diagram signed (apparently by the then governor and referring to the original Decree) in March 1982 indicates the flag has overall proportions 7:10, however, from the diagram we may note that the stripes are in proportions of 9-10-9 rather than even, with the motto contained within an imaginary rectangle equal to 11/20 of flag length across by 6/10 of the central stripe high. The exact colors still remain slightly conjectural, none-the-less. The flag at is based on a photo of a flag in actual use and the shades are rather brighter than we show?
Christopher Southworth, 26 September 2010

That seems odd--the 1947 decree-law on the flag said "A bandeira do Estado terá as dimensões estabelecidas para a bandeira nacional, em três campos - azul, branco e rosa - retangulares, longitudinais e iguais..." (The flag of the State will have the dimensions established for the national flag, in three fields - blue, white, and pink - rectangular, longitudinal, and equal." I wonder why they'd go from equal to unequal, other than perhaps to satisfy the Brazilian impulse to give flag dimensions in "modules". Having a hoist equal to 28 modules would allow stating the fly as exactly 40, but then it would seem just as easy to state the hoist as 7+7+7 with the fly equal to 30. Perhaps the math for the arc and the height of the letters ends up in fractions that way?
Joe McMillan, 4 October 2010

The official diagram gives the overall proportions as 14 modules by 20 modules, then stripes in ridiculous proportions of 4.5 modules, 5 modules and 4.5 modules, with 1.5 modules at the top of bottom of the lettering and 4.5 modules at the hoist and at the fly.
Christopher Southworth, 4 October 2010

Variant Form

[Variant Flag of Espírito Santo (Brazil)] 7:10 image by Joseph McMillan

Arthur Luponi mentions that this flag is sometimes found with a smaller but still upper case E.
Joseph McMillan, 23 August 2002

History of the Flag

In 1947, upon handing over the government to the elected state officials following the decade of direct rule from Rio de Janeiro, Federal Interventor Moacyr Ubirajara issued decree-law No. 16,453 of 31 January 1947, reinstating state decrees 455, 456, and 3151, which had adopted the state seal and arms in 1909 and the words of the anthem in 1931. The flag, however, was not addressed until six months later by decree No. 16,618 of 24 July 1947, which defined all the state symbols. The relevant parts of the decree say:

"Considering that, although not defined by express act, tradition admits of the flag and anthem, the former in the colors blue and pink . . .
Art. 2. The State flag will have the dimensions established for the national flag, in three fields--blue, white, and pink--rectangular, longitudinal, and equal, having on the center of the second one, in an arc of blue letters, the motto "trabalha e confia [work and trust]."
But what was this traditional flag from 1937 and before? Was it the same as the one defined by decree 16,618? If so, why does the decree describe it simply as blue and pink, rather than as blue, white, and pink? [It was not; see below--Ed.]

Clovis Ribeiro, in Brazões e Bandeiras do Brasil (1933), p. 161, says only that Espírito Santo had not adopted a flag at the time he wrote. This is clearly true, at least legally, although Ribeiro did take note of customary flags in use in other states, such as Bahia. The sources mentioned above say the flag was created in 1908 . . ." and attribute both the colors and the motto to Governor Jerônimo Monteiro, who was governor in the 1908-09 period.
Joseph McMillan, 23 August 2002

Former Flag of Espírito Santo, 1908-1937

Espírito Santo (Brazil), 1908-1937 image by Joseph McMillan

Arthur Luponi, "The Flags of the States of Brazil: Espírito Santo," Flag Bulletin 16:114-117 (July-August 1977) says that in 1908 a "normal flag" of the same design as the old 19th century merchant ship identifying pennant for Espírito Santo was introduced, the idea being attributed to Deocleciano Oliveira, the state Secretary of Education and Culture. Luponi says it was this flag that was abolished when state symbols were outlawed in 1937. Well, the 19th century merchant ship pennant for Espírito Santo was not a horizontal blue-white-pink tricolor, it was a vertical bicolor, blue and red. And the 1909 acts by Monteiro introducing blue and pink as the colors and Trabalha e Confia as the motto had to do with adoption of the arms and seal in the decrees noted above. While these acts probably influenced the evolution of the flag (they certainly did in the decree of July 1947), there is no firm evidence that they immediately affected whatever flag design had been adopted in 1908. Yet in 1947, people in Espírito Santo obviously recalled that the flag they had been using ten years earlier was blue and pink.

So here I resort to speculation: isn't it possible that the flag introduced in 1908 (the year before blue and pink were established as state colors) was, as Luponi says, simply a version of the red-blue bicolor pennant in more normal proportions? This was what was done in Alagoas, albeit with the addition of the state coat of arms. Then gradually, perhaps under the influence of the decree on the state coat of arms, light blue and pink came to be substituted for normal blue and red. By this theory, the rearrangement of the colors, introduction of the white stripe, and addition of the motto would have come with the 1947 decree. Such a flag may have been developed before 1937, but then, it seems to me, the white stripe and words would have been mentioned in the 1947 decree describing the earlier flag.
Joseph McMillan, 23 August 2002

This flag is confirmed by one of a set of cards, issued with bars of Eucalol soap in the 1930s, showing the state flags of Brazil. This set was reported by Falko Schmidt. The flag for Espírito Santo is, as shown above, divided vertically blue and red.
Joseph McMillan, 5 February 2003

Variant on Stamp

[Variant Flag of Espírito Santo (Brazil)] image by Joseph McMillan and António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2007

In our page about flags on Brazilian stamps, our stamp nº 2347 (also #2347 in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue) shows many Brazilian states’ flags, all forced to ~3:4. (See it also in the page about Brazil at, Richard Mallett’s Flags on
Stamps .info website.

Apart from the squarish ratio, one specific error caught my eye: the Espírito Santo state flag is depicted with medium blue and medium red, instead of pale blue and reddish pink. This is an interesting error, and bound to be perpetrated many times, on both historical and vexillographic grounds: 1st: this flag derived from a regular red-blue flag, and 2nd: the two pale shades plus white may seem to the unknowledgeable though astute vexillologist as a case of sun bleaching or any other form of overexposure. Its presence in an officially sanctioned source such as this stamp (surely caused by the motives above) will only strengthen this impression.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2007