Destination Rio de Janeiro, the second travel to the former capital of Brazil.
Igreja NS de Bonsucesso, a tiny church between the skyscrapers.
Day 2, 10 a.m.
It was just before ten a.m., when I left the group at the Biblioteca Nacional. They were abotu to stay there, for a full day of guided tours and presentations. I had no city map with me, I was walking by chance. I turned right, and I walked down the avenida. A crowded avenida. I already had noticed two ancient towers in front of me, and I was interested to take a closer look at these towers. After having walked more five hundred meters, I turned right, in the direction of what seemed two church towers to me. At my left, I noticed a construction site, which had the size of an entire block. This site was covered by a tall wooden fence, with some holes in it. It allowed me to peer at the site. As far as I could see, they were dealing with sanitary constructions. There were enormous tubes made of concrete. At my right, I noticed the Court, followed by the ‘Ministério da Fazenda’. When I heard this term for the first time, I immediately associated it like: Fazenda – farm – agriculture. Apparently, a very logical thought. Unfortunately, the Brazilian language sometimes is far for logical: this Ministry deals with… Treasury.
At the corner of that avenue, some municipal employees – clearly visible because of their orange overalls – were clustered together at a local snack bar. The people, who dig in the ground all day in order to provide us disposal of our fluid waste, could buy hamburgers and soft drinks at very low prices. I honestly had serious doubts about the quality of the hamburgers offered. Were they well done enough? Do the employees of that snack bar show enough respect for the hygiene, in order to prevent nasty intestinal infections? I doubted, because of the very low prices, about half of the normal prices. Is it the city that provides these discounts? I do not think so, since it were not only the municipal employees who could buy there. I also could have bought such a cheap hamburger. In theory, because I really want to avoid stomach aches….
N.S. de Bonsucesso
I approached the two towers; they seemed hidden among the towering buildings around them. Historical white towers between modern towers of glass. Eventually, I arrived at this church, Igreja da Nossa Senhora Bonsucesso. One of the oldest churches in Rio, one of the oldest in Brazil even. By chance, I had arrived at one of the historical landmarks of Rio. The construction of this church started in 1567, adjacent to the Morro do Castelo, as part of Santa Casa de Misericordia. Two hundred years later, in 1780, the church was rebuilt with elements of the Jesuit Church, which had the same age as the NS do Bonsucesso. Together with Morro do Castelo, the Jesuit Church was demolished. The in baroque style rebuilt NS Bonsucesso contains the original altars and pulpit from the Jesuit Church.
Some believers sat in the church, they were praying. The space was dimly lit by electric candles, which enhanced the mystical atmosphere in the church. The left and right walls were both decorated with statues of saints, and with large plastic, dark red banners, on which the lyrics of praise and the prayer to Santa Luzia (Saint Lucia) were printed. The pale white panels were decorated with gold leaf. Straight lines, elegant curls. On either side were three balconies flanked with dark red curtains. I imagined that these balconies contained the seats for the notables, some centuries ago. The altar was covered with cloths of white lace. Behind the altar, a sort of step-like elevation supported the statue of St. Lucia. Above this – lavishly decorated with flowers – elevation, the crucifix was attached against a blue sky background. An impressive composition, a lust for the eye.
Parallel with the main area was a narrow corridor to another room with small altars and statues of saints. Statues of Holy Mary, Jesus, and Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. These statues were flanked by angels that were painted on the walls. Angels like I had seen in paintings of Italian masters. The statue of Holy Mary was located on top of a fountain, where you could dip your hands in the water. Many faithful hands had been moistened with water, and had made the cross sign with that. It is impressive to witness many believers – young and old – making the cross sign when passing churches, when entering churches, or when standing in front of statues of saints. They probably do not frequent the churches, but their faith is rooted firmly inside them.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (20). Libraries in Rio (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- COLORFUL BRAZIL: Igreja da Candelária, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: Mariana (MG), 2011 (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- COLORFUL BRAZIL: Staircase at Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- COLORFUL BRAZIL: Gossips in the Center of Rio de Janeiro (RJ) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (21). Biblioteca Nacional (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)