The 12 Prophets: Jonas
Congonhas is a small historic 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.
The prophets by Aleijadinho: prophet Jonas (Jonah).
Jonas (‘dove’) is described in the Bible as well in the Quran. His Book tells about God’s order to Jonah to travel to the by Assyrians dominated city of Ninivé. Jonas refused, he was swallowed by a whale, survived it, and fulfilled God’s order thereafter.
The prophets (with clickable links),from left to right (names in Portuguese):
Amos – Joel – Ezequiel – Isaías – Jonas – Abdias – Daniel – Jeremias – Naum – Habacuc – Oséias – Baruc
Complete photo gallery
Statues of twelve prophets carved from soap stone are located in front of Santuario do Bom Jesus Matosinhos. Aleijadinho had sculpted them between 1795 and 1805.
Third from left, next to Abdias, is the statue of Jonas. Jonas is depicted with a fish at his side, with the mouth wide open, recalling the biblical story. In the group of the twelve prophets, Jonas is placed symmetrically against Joel, and is next to Daniel. Jonas, with the whale, and Daniel, with the lion, are the only two prophets bearing symbols in their sculptures.
Jonas (his name means ‘dove ‘in Hebrew), is described in both the Old Testament and the Quran. In the Quran the Prophet’s name is Yunus. Jonas lived in the eighth century B. C., in the era in which the Assyrians oppressed Israel. The story in the Bible is about the instruction from God to Jonah to go to the Assyrian city of Ninive, and to propose the people the choice between either conversion, or destruction. Jonas refused this instruction, and fled in the opposite direction. His ship was caught by a storm, and Jonas got blamed for this uncommon fierce storm, and is thrown overboard and swallowed by a large fish. The famous legend of Jonas in the whale was born. He survived, the fish spit him out. Jonas converted, and ultimately went to the Assyrian city. The townspeople became particularly impressed by his story and converted. To Jonas’ dissatisfaction, the city was saved from destruction. The moral of this story is the power of forgiveness.
On the shield that Amos is holding, one can read the following motto:
“A Ceto Absor/
Ptus Lateo No/
Tres Ventre In/
Piscis Tum Ni/
(“Engolido por uma baleia, permaneço três dias e três noites no ventre do peixe; depois venho a Nínive. Jonas, cap.2”).
(I was swallowed by a whale, and stayed three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; then I went to Nínive)
The stature of Jonas resembles to those of the prophets Joel, Jeremias, Oseias, and Ezequiel. However, Jonas is depicted with an open mouth with his teeth visible, and with the head slightly backwards. Jonas is wearing a robe, with a collar. The robe is buttoned up from the middle, and girded with a belt. He bears a mantle, draped over his left shoulder. The whale is positioned in such a way that it looks like a baroque fountain: with the head up, the whale bones (resembles more to be shark teeth!) clearly visible.
Study project Congonhas
Book of Jonah
© Adriano Antoine Robbesom 2011, 2017