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 Crucifixion’.
‘The Crucifixion’ is the final of six Passos, the Passion of Christ. ‘The Crucifixion’ shows Jesus being hammered on the cross, Roman soldiers gambling, and two criminals waiting for their execution.
The prophets (with clickable links):
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 sixth and final passion is composed of three parts.
The center part shows the cross on the floor with Jesus lying down on it. His hands and feet were being hammered on the cross by two Roman soldiers. Maria Magdalena weeped, kneeling next to the cross. She appeared to be desperately begging the soldiers to release Jesus.
The left part represents two Roman soldiers playing dice. The winner would obtain Jesus’ tunic.
The right part shows the two condemned who were about to be crucified too. One of them was considered as ‘good’ and mournful, while the other was ‘bad’ and remorseful. Their facial expressions clearly demonstrate who is the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’.
The background shows three Roman soldiers who keep an eye on the events in front of them. The reddish purple background intensifies the dramatic atmosphere of this crucifixion scene.
Remarkable is the localization of the nail in Jesus’ hand. It was not hammered into the middle of the hand, as many images show that, but the nail went through the strongest muscle of the hand, the ball.
The shield above the chapel shows the following text:
Locum Ubi Cruci/
Fixerunt Eum. Et/
Cum Eo Alios Duos/
Hinc Et Hinc/
S. João Cap. 19
V.17 e 18′.
Ao lugar chamado Calvário, onde o crucificaram,e com eles outros dois, um de cada lado.
(They crucified Him, at the Gogotha, and with Him two others, at both sides)
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