The Senhor do Bonfim Sanctuary Basilica is one the most popular and attended sites of Salvador da Bahia, in Brazil.
This church’s history started in 1669 when it was built in Setúbal (Portugal) a hermitage named Anjo da Guarda. Later, it started to be known as Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim (Church of Senhor do Bonfim).
D. João V made a promise in the name of his father’s own health, the Portuguese king D. Pedro II, to Senhor do Bofim and, thus, its popularity grew. According to the Catholic Church’s devotion, Senhor do Bonfim is a figuration of Jesus Christ during the vision of his own death. This devotion is tied to episodes of major crises and natural catastrophes.
Years later, the explorer Theodósio Rodrigues de Faria, also a believer in Senhor do Bonfim, made a promise while he was at sea, during a storm. He promised that, in case he survived, he would bring from Portugal the images of Senhor do Bonfim (of the city of Setúbal) and Nossa Senhora da Guia (Our Lady of Guia). And so it was.
In 1745, he brought a replica of the image that was found in the hermitage of Setúbal and the constructions of Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim began.
Initially, the image was located in the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França de Apagipe de Baixo, being relocated in 1754, in the hill of Bonfim. The transition from one temple to the other was marked with a procession.
In the year following the completion of the works of Igreja do Bofim, the well-known Lavagem do Bonfim (Washing of Bonfim) was started, the 2nd biggest popular demonstration after the Brazilian Carnival. It takes place every year on the second Thursday of January.
It began as a washing of the church carried out by slaves. As time moved on, this ritual started to be held in the Church’s exterior. Currently, the Bahian women are the ones who start procession, pouring pots of fragrant water down the heads of the faithful and on the churchyard.
Widely known and associated with Bonfim and Salvador, you have the so-called fitinhas do Bonfim (the wish ribbons of Bonfim). They were created in 1809 and were originally known as the Measure of Bonfim, with a length of 47 cm, which is the size of the right arm of the statue of Senhor do Bonfim.
The ribbon was made of silk and used as a collar. Over the time, its shape and fabric changed and it started to be wear as a bracelet. Today, there are several different ribbons of different colors and each one has a distinct meaning.
I’ve walked through Salvador and I enjoyed the city very much. I was fond of the environment, the food, the music and the people. The neighborhood of Pelourinho is quite interesting and full of history! I was there this year, during the Carnival. It was a blast 🙂
In order to know more about the historic center of Salvador, read The Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador da Bahia.