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Decisive Franciscans in devotion to the Cross at Bom Jesus do Monte

The historian Aurélio de Oliveira dismounted yesterday, in Bom Jesus do Monte, certain convictions regarding the origins of the pictorial and plastic representations present in the sanctuary bracarense, underlining the importance of the franciscans in expanding devotion to the Cross.

The lecturer at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto presented scientific arguments that prove the decisive role of the mendicant orders, constituted by franciscans and dominicans, «not to unfold in this devotional way in “Sacri Monti“».

The member of the Portuguese Academy of History even suggested that «it is necessary to check the documentary sources» in order to not present mechanically the Queda of Constantinopla, the Concílio de Trento and the actions of Carlos Borromeu and Frei Bartolomeu dos Mártires as decisive and originating factors of the popular devotion.

In the lecture “Os Montes Sagrados- Dos Sacri Monti ao Bom Jesus do Monte. Entre Mitos e Realidades”, Aurélio de Oliveira explained that, «with the franciscans, a human Christ appears, a suffering Christ»  and that «the diffusion of the images of the Cross and Calvary» was only possible thanks to his group of religious who moved in the century XV  «perfectly at ease».

«The voyages were carried out either by wealth or by beggars» said the historian, removing Italy from the geographical origin of the pictorial representations presents in Bom Jesus do Monte.

For Aurélio Oliveira, Germany played a major roole in this aspect. «The first Sacri Monti appear in the German cities of Augsburg and Nuremberg, and in the Spanish cities of Cordoba and Granada», he said, arguing that Portuguese economic contacts «were much stronger with Germany than with Italy».

Yesterday’s lecture, organized by the Confraria do Bom Jesus do Monte, intended to ponder current statements about this devotional issue (Calvary), or its plastic or mimetic expression from the “Italian Model”.

The bracarense confraternity has held monthly sessions of enlightenment and historical and cultural depths related to the Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte. Those responsible have scheduled 12 thematic sessions, «a joint challenge with the participants, considering to what extent we can move through some “myths” and acutal historical and material realities as devotional».

Diário do Minho