Archive for January, 2012

Autumn in Minas Gerais: Part III

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Outono em Minas Gerais: Parte Três

Monday morning, Jaimie and I arose to squeeze in a bit more historical tourism in Ouro Preto. We climbed the ladeira up to Praça Tiradentes. On the way, I took this picture of an oratório perched on a corner overlooking a steep valley.

Passo de Antônio Dias: an example of an oratório in Ouro Preto

(Note: an oratório is a structure constructed for personal worship and prayer. It ranges in size from one wall of a room, to a portable chest, to a medallion worn around the neck. Click here to visit the photo gallery of the Museu do Oratório in Ouro Preto to see examples).

The small plaque to the right of the double door explains that this oratórioPasso de Antônio Dias—is one of five remaining in Ouro Preto. It opens only during Semana Santa (Holy Week), specifically during the Processão do Encontro on Domingo dos Ramos (see my prior post), the Processão do Enterro (Procession of the Interment of Jesus Christ), e Sexta-Feira Santa (Good Friday).

Looking back at my photos after the trip, I realized I had snapped a picture of that same oratório the day before—on Domingo dos Ramos (Palm Sunday). What luck! I remember having watched ouropretanos (residents of Ouro Preto) pass by, pay their respects, and resume the quotidian, such as running errands, shopping, visiting relatives.

Passo de Antônio Dias: open for only a few days of the year, I snapped this on Palm Sunday

This aspect of individual spirituality fascinates me. Historically, it seems to have arisen out of colonial necessity. Portuguese settlers simply couldn’t build churches fast enough, especially not in the remote, mountainous state of Minas Gerais. But, portable oratórios helped keep people invested in the Catholic Church.

Here are two more oratórios that opened during the evening processionals of Semana Santa (Holy Week).

Oratório in Ouro Preto open during the Processão do Encontro on Domingo dos Ramos (Palm Sunday)

Oratório in São João del Rei open during Quarta-Feira das Cinzas (Ash Wednesday)



















Monday evening, Jaimie and I parted ways. She returned to Belo Horizonte to continue her biological research on tadpoles (so neat!), and I took a bus to São João del Rei.