Congonhas is a small historical city at 75 km south of Belo Horizonte, along the ‘Estrada Real’ to Rio de Janeiro. The city is well known for the statues of Brazilian artist Aleijadinho.
Passions of Christ: ‘The Last Supper’.
‘The Last Supper’ is the first of six Passos, the Passion of Christ. ‘The Last Supper’ demonstrates Jesus and his disciples at a large round table. The disciples appear to be very shocked and show agitated gestures.
from left to right (names in Portuguese):
Amos – Joel – Ezequiel – Isaías – Jonas – Abdias – Daniel – Jeremias – Naum – Habacuc – Oséias – Baruc
The ‘Passos’ are composed of no less than sixty-six statures, which are divided over six small chapels that are flanking the steep alley to Santuário de Bom Jesus do Matosinhos. These statues were created between 1799 and 1806. Initially, they were stored, until the chapels were finished, in 1875. The groups of statues in the six chapels demonstrate the Passion of Christ: Last Supper, Olive Garden, Imprisonment. Castigation, Carrying the Cross, and Crucifixion.
The first chapel contains the masterpieces of the Passos: The Last Supper (Ceia)
Obvious is the large round table, with Jesus and his disciples sitting around it. Two servants flank them. The statues are made from massive cedar wood. Surprisingly, the hands are loose, they were made separately. These hands can be moved, since they are anchored within the sleeves. The facial expressions are theatrical, as it is a characteristic of Baroque art. The table scenery appears to be immortalized at the time of the disclosure by Jesus, that one of the disciples should have betrayed him. The disciples expressed their moments of shock, and demonstrate that with agitated hand gestures. The servants did not know what to do. They wear robes of the Baroque Era, while the disciples wear robes from the era when they lived. Not all statues are complete: they two servants and the disciples in front of the scenery are complete, while the others are only complete from the waist upward. The colors were added by Manoel da Costa Athayde. The statues of Jesus and the disciples are painted with pastel colors, while statues of Roman soldiers – for example – are painted with deeper colors.
The shield above the chapel shows the following text:
Autem Eis Accepit/
Hoc Est cor/
Pus Me Um/
S. Math Cap. 26/
Enquanto ceavam tomou Jesus o pão (e disse); Este é meu corpo. Mateus cap. 26 v. 27.
(During the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread (and said): This is My body. Matthew 26:27)
Congonhas may be easily reached by bus from Belo Horizonte. A single ticket costs about 20 reais (8 euros, 2010). The city is situated at the Estrada Real, a historic route that leads from Minas Gerais (Diamantina and Ouro Preto) to Rio de Janeiro (Paraty or Rio de Janeiro). Near the bus stop is the tourist information center, where you can see a little overview of the church and the statues, and were you can make an appointment for a local guide who leads you through the historic center of the city. The church is easily reached by bus. It is also possible to walk this distance; it will take a bit less than an hour. Remember that the church resides on a hill, and therefore must be climbed. At the foot of the church is a regular market, worth a visit too.
|Congonhas, city of the Prophets
|Historic images of Congonhas
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom