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.
(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 oratório—Passo 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.
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).
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.