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The Bom Jesus Sanctuary of Braga declared World Heritage

The Bom Jesus Sanctuary, in Braga, was today declared World Heritage by the UNESCO. The Bom Jesus of Braga joins in this way to the 15 other places classified like World Heritage in Portugal.

To the Brotherhood, the vote of committee of the World Heritage, reunited since 30 July on the 43ª anual session, is “the culmination of 20 years of work”, executed through a qualification and appreciation of the heritage programe, like a recognition of “quality, authenticity and monumentality without precedents of the sacred hill.”.

The Bom Jesus sacred hill Brotherhood claims that this is “the beginning of a new moment” to the Sanctuary, assuming the commitment to implement a long-term management and a qualified visitation and share with the other goods their qualifications in conservation of heritage.


A work from the heart

The idea to avancing with an application of Bom Jesus isn’t new: in 1998 the dream started. About 20 years later, the work made is huge and to all the involved this classification have a special meaning.

“Already when I was a kid the Bom Jesus was a place where, as seminarian, I like to go in the rides we performed. I like Bom Jesus very much! Nowadays I go less, but in the past I passed a lot of time in there. I like to climb all the stairway, slowly, looking carefully to all the chapels. After, do the route of Sentidos and Virtudes… and continue until the Apóstolos ground, when effectively a mission finished. The Bom Jesus Sanctuary is in the center, but go to the high to proclaim a thing that we celebrate is a interesting message that I always trie to take”, claims the primate Archbishop, D. Jorge Ortiga.
Also the President of the application consider that this classification is a recognition of “ a incalculable value” that now “clearly” exceeds the boundaries of the country, waiting that since today be even more wanted, more visited and even more understood.
Varico Pereira, the Bom Jesus Brotherhood secretary and one of the faces more visible from the application, explains to the DACS that is not difficult the emotional involvement with the Sanctuary, place that even refers as “home”.

“A big part of people have a feeling really strong and special with Bom Jesus. I’m not a exception and I haven’t just one big feeling of devotion, but also a lot of affection with the place. When we are involved in some way with the Bom Jesus, quickly starts to be our home, we spend more time here that in our’s”, claims.

The secretary says that easily any of the workers of the Sanctuary- even the volunteers- does many works with pleasure, even if aren’t part of their functions, like “pick up garbage from the floor” or “give instructions to tourists”. Nowadays exist 138 persons that work and live from Bom Jesus. In high season this numbers arrive at 150 different positions and functions.

Varico recalls the year of 2017 and the fires that devastated Braga district. The fire consumed a huge green area and threatened the Bom Jesus. The responsible, after certifies that in is house everything is ok, didn’t resist and returned to Bom Jesus. Left the Sanctuary is already day, after, with other workers, have passed hours watering the green zones in a intense way. He believes that they avoided a disaster and says even the workers deserves a “ vote of praise”. They made without a obligation or request, only for feeling that the “house” also belongs to them.


“ It competes us to take care of what is our’s. No one else is going to worry about it”, concluded.

Since then the Bom Jesus Brotherhood already had installed water points in all the ground. In case of fire, the resources to a biggest control of the fire are already available and easily can be triggered.



The devotion of many generations

The Bom Jesus receives annually about a million and 200,000 visitors. Some look for the beauty and a idyllic scenery, others for the architecture and history and even existe some that visit only for devotion.

“The Bom Jesus is the ex-libris of Braga and for this reason have a meaning really particular. It’s almost impossible meet Braga without meet the Bom Jesus, one thing is entirely connect with the other. The Bom Jesus have an huge meaning, huge history with is heritage and also with is environmental dimension”, says the primate Archbishop, referring that the recent classification dignifies the city and honor the Braga Archdiocese as holder of the space.

The prior feels happy with the numbers relative to the faithful that goes to the Sanctuary. In 2017 had married in the Bom Jesus 148 persons and had been celebrated 95 baptized. In the year of 2018 the basilica was already in works, but estimes that since the final of this month by the end of 2019 become to be celebrated at least 30 marriages.

“The number of marriages has been increasing, which does not cease to be curious, as the number of marriages in Portugal has diminished. This shows that people prefer to marriage in a symbolic church… The Bom Jesus is a iconic place in the memory of millions of people that came here when was children. This become memories of generations, since this persons come back with the families that form in adults. We have cases of tradition when the grandfather, the father and continuing! We also know that some people start dating in Bom Jesus and, for that, insist in marry here”, explain Varico Pereira.

The secretary says that above this reason exist other really strong, the Bom Jesus scenario, that in terms of photography represents a space “amazing”. The primitive Archbishop agrees with this information, but says that exist a lot of faithful that not marriage only for the “outer circumstantial part”, but with an internal strong motivation.

“The faithful recognize that are in a Sanctuary when is claim the Jesus kindness, which is an appeal to in the marriage the good happens everyday. And I don’t speak in the celebration moment, but in entire life, relative to what the spouses share between them with the sons. I believe that this is a message that the Bom Jesus ends up to communicate with this people”, explains D. Jorge Ortiga.

Manuel Palmeira had marriage 25 years ago at Bom Jesus and says that would not choose a different place.

“Clearly was a personal option. Since early I start to work in photography and was frequent go to Bom Jesus for work. I’ve been creating a connection really affective with the Sanctuary. Later I ended up finding that my paternal grandfather was one of the painters of the altar-mor of the church. So, enough reasons to not thing in other choice”, says.

Manuel already have celebrate is silver wedding and participated in the eucharistic of Sanctuary. The love for this sacred hill had born decades ago and “in nothing relates with the recent projection of the Sanctuary”.

Sílvia Morais also had married in Bom Jesus 37 years ago. Says that the dream to marriage there starts when was young.

“When I was a kid I use to go to Bom Jesus with my parents and, already a grow-woman, with friends or boyfriend. Always I visit this beautiful church, and says that my dream was to marriage there. And so it was! When my husband propose me, my dream become real in the moment he asks me: <lets get marriage on Bom Jesus>?”, tells.

In March 13 of 1982 married in Bom Jesus. Today Sílvia lives outside, but always when come to Portugal makes a point to visit the Sanctuary, your “favourite place”.

“Im always there, since child. Wonderfull and sacred place like no other form me”, says.


A recognition, a responsibility future

Varico Pereira is adamant: the future is of compromise, responsibility and requirement. The work will be even bigger, but also will exist other conditions to accomplish it.

“This is a huge recognition of the exceptional heritage value and landscape of Bom Jesus and is, at the same time, a big responsibility. This seal- yes, because we already considered the Bom Jesus World Heritage, lacked it just this certification- is the one recognition visible that missing from the Bom Jesus and is a seal of responsibility for the future. The ones that going to be the organisation responsibilities and management of the space will be much more demanding that the ones that already exist until then. We have to be prepared to answer to the demanding of UNESCO in relation to this heritage”, claims.

The responsible also says that the classification of Bom Jesus as World Heritage represents more value, since it consist in one more “important active about culture and tourism”, and that the increase of classified places is a recognition that the heritage cultural lusitano have a lot of value, that means a bigger number of visitors.

“More people will want to visit Portugal, more people will want to visit Minho, more people will want to visit Bom Jesus and this means gains from the point of view of the local economy, through the money that the tourism can generate. This money will help to creat jobs, will help to make better   places in the way to do interventions in the requalifications of natural and cultural heritage”, explains.

The primate Archbishop is also conscious of the elevated number of standards and guidelines that will start to govern Bom Jesus and that means even bigger cares in the preservation of the place.

“Bom Jesus have to be cared permanently, have to be really estimated! Should rely on the collaboration of all in a positive way, so that there is no property an environmental damage”, explains.

For D. Jorge Ortiga this means that each one should continue “building the Bom Jesus dignity” and that should be a conscious taking that the place “isn’t only pleasant”, constituting as a space of “ambiental quality, monumental, architectonic, symbolic and history of Incalculable value”.


The application

For the application of a place in the list of World Heritage is necessary demonstrate the Universal Exceptional value, which implies meeting the criteria defined by the World Heritage Convention, as well as showing its authenticity and integrity.

The World Heritage Committee meets once a year and is composed of representatives from 21 countries elected by the General Assembly. The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, having the last word on the admission of a good on the World Heritage list.

The application of Sanctuary of Bom Jesus sacred hill in Braga to World Heritage is chaired  by D. Jorge Ortiga, Archbishop of Braga. The scientific coordination was the responsibility of the landscape architects Teresa Andersen and Teresa Portela Marques.

For the application was used one of the exist criteria in the World Heritage Convention to regulate the integration of places in the World Heritage list and that concerns an “important exchange of human values”.

“The natural landscape of Espinho mountain hill was use as scenery to an Viae Crucis that result in the construction of monumental Sanctuary that suffered architectonic and artistic metamorphoses during a period of 6 centuries. In the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, the natural elements- granite, water, vegetation-and cultural elements – stairways, chapels, sculptures- are integrated in a way to constitute a whole of character and spirituality exceptional, in an artistic and constructive manifestation of the human genius “, can read in the display catalog of Bom Jesus.