The Confraria do Bom Jesus do Monte presented its new Christmas Nativity scene. This Christmas period is always a happy and very special season. It commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save all men. It is said that the Child Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem, in a manger, among the animals. This was his first lesson in humility. In fact, Bom Jesus, from the outset, manifested and revealed the love of God in its fullness, descending to our human and fragile condition to stay with us, to make himself close, to love us unconditionally! During the presentation, the President of the Confraria do Bom Jesus, Cón. Mário Martins, said “When we stop before the provocative simplicity, and at the same time, enchanting of the nativity scene, our heart dares to experience a time and a journey of gestation, as our Archdiocese of Braga challenges us throughout this time of Advent it’s Christmas; pregnancy, which confirms us in hope, in the warmth of knowing we are dear and loved and, in this way, enables us to practice the gestures that are born of love, on a path that we travel together, which can care for and even heal the wounds of our brothers! ”
The crib is, therefore, the representation of Jesus’ birth in a stable. São Francisco de Assis, in 1223, decided to spend Christmas in a cave. And he publicized the idea of creating clay figures to represent the birth of Jesus. Many nativity scenes were created from that date. All over the world the birth of Jesus is commemorated in various ways, but the nativity scene is probably the most traditional representation of this time, together with the Christmas pine tree.
In the Basilica of Bom Jesus it has always been a tradition to present the nativity scene. This year, we decided to create a crib that allows us to have a permanent and distinct presence, in a more artistic (and at the same time, traditional) presentation. This work of art was conceived by an artist, who also happens to be secretary of the Confraria do Bom Jesus, Dr. Vicente Craveiro. To him we owe this expression of beauty, capable of making us pray better this season of Advent and Christmas, which will be present to the public, from this date, here in this Basilica.
This crib will be one more reason and opportunity for all Braga, and those who visit us during their Christmas holidays, to come to Bom Jesus do Monte and pray together with the Child, that same Child who, years later, from the top of the Cross. He embraces and rescues us with his mercy.
However, this crib does not only represent the birth of the Child Jesus. There is also the Catholic tradition of our people, the traditions of Minho, pilgrimages and processions, music, professions, nature, handicrafts, among other elements that make up this beautiful work of art.
By the way, the presentation of this crib served as a motto to highlight some actions that the Confraria do Bom Jesus has already developed within the scope of the Lautato Si Action Platform. the natural elements (clay, cork, moss and wood). As of today, the Confraria do Bom Jesus also has a space in the Casa das Estampas dedicated to handicrafts and local artisans.
In fact, of the actions present in the protocol signed by this Confraternity, the Confraria do Sameiro, the Irmandade da Falperra and Santa Marta das Cortiças, on September 27 of this year, some have already been implemented, such as those listed below:
- We support the circular economy by promoting local crafts with local products.
- Over the last month, we have planted more than a hundred native trees.
- We are renovating and installing more sustainable and efficient lighting systems (indoor and outdoor), with the transition to LED lights.
- We have protected and recovered two water sources and mines, ensuring the sustainable use of water.
- We created a combustion center, to be used as natural fertilizer from tree leaves and other forest residues.
- We eliminated the use of plastic bags in the printing house and produced a recycled paper bag with the image of Bom Jesus.
- We have replaced some benches in the “canudo” area, with the aim of creating spaces for reflection in the natural space to contemplate, hear, feel and observe nature.
As the President of the Confraternity said, “other actions are being studied and, in due course, implemented. For these and other reasons, we will base our actions on sustainable action, as a strategic axis in the management of this resort, in accordance with the guidelines that Pope Francis indicated to us”.
The author of this new Crib and Board of the Confraria do Bom Jesus do Monte – Dr. Vicente Martins – recalled the difficult times that all Christians (and humanity in general) are going through in this time of pandemic and referred to the three motivations and intentions fundamentals of this work:
- Helping to celebrate a Christmas in Hope.
- To reinforce this ancient tradition that is the Portuguese Nativity Scene.
- Boost the activity of artisans in difficulty.
There was still time for a challenge left to all the people of Braga (and to as many who visit us): that in each family, in each home, a crib be built, however small.
Dom Jorge Ortiga reinforced this idea saying that “no house in Minho can lack a Nativity scene”.
The prelate highlighted the importance of caring for nature in the present time – an importance already clearly highlighted in the Pastoral Program of the Archdiocese – and recalled, quoting the book of Genesis, that God gives Nature to Man so that he can complete it and not destroy it. In this sense, all Catholics must develop (even in small actions) a taste for what is created and the responsibility to renounce, and perhaps even denounce, intolerable attitudes towards Nature. This is the message that the Nativity scene must send out: the call to take care of Nature.
Finally, from this Sanctuary, which is, in the words of Dom Jorge Ortiga, the ex-libris of Braga, he prayed to Senhor Bom Jesus – who is the same one who is on the Cross and in the Manger – so that He may pour His blessings on the city of Braga.