Holy Week

32min38

Holy Week. Torch Procession (Fogaréu). Popular Catholicism. Goiás Velho city. Goiás state. Maundy Thursday. Since 1745

Holy Week

32:38

Holy Week. Torch Procession (Fogaréu). Popular Catholicism. Goiás Velho city. Goiás state. Maundy Thursday. Since 1745

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The Holy Week in Goiás


Forty men carry torches in their hands as they walk up the city’s hills. Wearing tunics and hoods, they walk for hours on end: whom or what are they looking for? Behind them, thousands of followers observe and help. The group grows bigger under the moonlight that has for almost two thousand years been marking the repetition of this chapter in history.

"Those who lose the ability to be in awe, shall also lose their spirituality”

Don Eugenio Rixen

Although medieval garments may reveal the history of Jesus while he made his way through distant lands, on Maundy Thursday every year the same scene takes place in the heart of Brazil, in the small city of Goiás; in its historical center, a site that has been listed as world heritage. For over 270 years, Christ’s persecution has been reenacted in this city just 150km away from Brasília, a staging that powers the energy moving the city and its 25 thousand inhabitants who dedicates themselves to the celebration of passion and death of Christ: there are masses, processions, serenatas… the week is all holy in this place so inside Brazil.


On Thursday, at midnight, the city lights go out and the rhythm of drums determines the rhythm of steps. They leave from Igreja da Boa Morte, these Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus: they are characters known as farricocos headed towards another church, Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário, where the Last Supper is served. In their hands are lamps that, on top of providing light, also cover the surroundings with the scent of kerosene. Their voices chant Latin verses called motets. They later arrive at Igreja São Francisco de Paula, a reference to the Garden of Gethsemane, to reenact Christ’s arrest. Dressed in white, one of the men carries a banner: a fabric that represents Jesus’s body.

 

“Brazil is no son of Descartes.

Here, we say:

I feel, therefore I am”

Don Eugenio Rixen

A much more emotional rather than rational faith transforms storytelling into a series of performances. And the believers’ return home is also a type of performance: hugs, touches, and kisses; for people and objects that have sacred meanings throughout the ritual. A piece of fabric becomes Jesus; a fabric that used to be ordinary is now touched by respectful kisses and love.

Since 1745, the Fogaréu ritual has been attracting visitors and tourists interested in experiencing Christianity’s manifestation of the Sacred in person: up close, slowly, very real.

 

“Religion helps to maintain socialization in Brazilian communities”

Don Eugenio Rixen

And between each other. Groups of students, neighbors, and friends. Together, hand in hand, those who stay close arrive. Many threads make the stitches of this reenacted history. Cans are collected everywhere and litanies are ready in the tip of the tongue here, in this place where Lent is community labor: for only one of the hours of an unforgettable week, the Holy Week.

Up close, there are recognizable people with a new story to tell. A total of forty volunteers who, under those shiny fabrics, are just common people from the same Rosary of life. With each ritual, one bead. With each emotion, a new tale to share.

interview

Dom Eugênio Rixen

10min44

interview

Dom Eugênio Rixen

10:44

Outtakes

The Serenatas of Goiás

19min17

Outtakes

The Serenatas of Goiás

19:17

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