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: ‘Carrying the Cross’.
‘Carrying the Cross’ is the fifth of six Passos, the Passion of Christ. Carrying the Cross’ demonstrates Jesus carrying the Cross to the Calvário. The passion shows indifferent Roman soldiers, mourning people, curious children, and Jesus who looks straight in our eyes.
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.
This passos represents Jesus carrying the Cross to the Calvário. In English this hill is called Calvary, but is better known with the Aramaic name: Golgotha, the possible location of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus had to climb the hill, while carrying the heavy cross. A large crowd of mourning people flanked the route. Aleijadinho had tried to add some drama to this scene. Roman soldiers who announce and escort the Cross carrier. The bystanders showing sad facial expressions, the unprejudiced curiosity of the children. Jesus appears to look the audience, and us, straight in the eyes.
On the left, the woman with the baby in her arm wears clothes that are typical for the 17th century. Of the nine statues in this passion, two were sculpted by Aleijadinho himself: the sobbing woman and Jesus. Other statues exhibit anatomical errors. Striking is the appearance of the baby in the arm. The colors of the statues are slightly brighter than those of the previous passion. Also striking is the fact that Jesus suddenly has dark eyes, instead of the clear blue eyes in the earlier statues. Probably some kind of a self portrait of Aleijadinho?
The shield above the chapel shows the following text:
S. joan. Cap. 17, V.19′.
‘Tomando sobre si a Cruz’
(He carried the Cross)
Overview of Passos ‘Carrying the Cross:
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 Adriano Antoine Robbesom
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