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Bonfim, a universe of beauty

Reporting: Kithi 
Images: Kithi and Edvaldo Passos

"Bonfim is a good start to everything," said composers Capinan and Roberto Mendes!


Mata de São João literally begins in Bonfim.

The construction of the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim and Nossa Senhora da Conceição is the determining factor to start and consolidate the tradition of faith and devotion to the Saint: the Feast of Bonfim takes place every year in February.

There are nine days of Catholic liturgy and four days of feast with intense programming: the traditional washing with the presence of the people of saints, athletics, amusement park, bicycle race, musical performances, electric trios, capoeira, horse racing ...

Ajá breath to accompany!


Hey Babysitter!

Bonfim, where it all started

Bonfim! Quiet village, neighborhood belonging to the seat of the municipality, which keeps the stories of tradition in the silence of the streets.


After moving twice, the village of São João finally found a stop in 1561.

In the place called Coqueiro da Água Comprida of Mata de São João, on the banks of the Jacuípe River, on the Jacupema site, between the years 1756 and 1761, the Chapel of Senhor do Bonfim and Nossa Senhora da Conceição was built.

The Jesuits of Colégio de Salvador lived in this place to catechize the Indians, predominantly Tupinambás, until 1759, when they were expelled by the Crown of Portugal and their assets confiscated and incorporated into the royal public treasury.

This is the second church in Bahia devoted to Senhor do Bonfim. The first is at Colina Sagrada, in Salvador.

Built at the initiative of Bento Vieira Paes, a business man established in the village of Mata de São João, the temple is still the “symbol of one of the greatest devotions in the place”, as stated in the book “Mata de São João, a Memory ”, organized by Erenilda Amaral.

Faith in Senhor do Bonfim is the subject that led us to discover the interior of Mata de São João, where the seat of the municipality is located.



Away from the glamor of the beaches known worldwide, we find a strong, hospitable and cheerful people, whose pleasure in life is to keep their traditions alive.

There's Bonfim Party, Cowboy Mass, Carnival, São João, New Year's Eve party, party, party and party ... in this place Bahianity exists in its essence: a people who love to celebrate!


The time comes for the Bonfim Festival in Mata de São



We were invited to make the projection mapped to be

displayed on the front of the Church! The seat of the

municipality of

Mata de São João was unknown to us until then.


During the technical visit the miracle happened.

The sadness was gone and the joy was pulsing again

between us.

It was January 2019 and a burning sun shone in the sky. The intense heat along with the need to drink water took me to Sr. Afonso's bar. Visible from the bandstand, located in front of the church.

The bar still maintains the style of the old grocery stores. Sells a little of everything. This caught my attention right away.

Mr. Afonso has worked on the site for 48 years. Behind the counter he saw and heard stories of all kinds! Always ready to help, he left his "sale" with customers several times to help those who arrived asking for help. He even saw a boy being born in his car ...

Quiet, he welcomed us with open arms! Monosyllabic, but entirely present, he listened to everything we talked about!

After a “pair of prose” we ask: do you grant us an interview? And he answered "yes", without blinking.

A light shone in our eyes. Our children have been awakened! It was the magazine Assum Preto re-born at that very moment of “yes”, in the simplest and most truthful way for us, which we find in the affairs and stories of the people the joy of living.

After talking with Mr. Afonso the sadness left, the faith increased and the happiness arrived ...

We were just arriving at “Nosso Senhor do Bonfim da Mata de São João”, the municipality's first name after becoming a rural parish in the city of Salvador, in the year 1761.

In the conversation with Mr. Afonso, we discovered an old train station, the non-existent tower (collapsed), the slope of the miracle and the slaughterhouse of Amado Batista. Check out the videos below!

Mr Afonso's dream of seeing the history of the city and caring for local heritage can come true. It is also the dream of the Secretary of Culture of Mata de São João.

Mr. Afonso talks about the history of


Márcio and Edmilson talk about Alto do Milagre

Alexandre Rossi, Secretary of Culture

and Turismo de Mata, speaks of the dream of rebuilding the slaughterhouse ...

Erenilda Amaral in the book Mata de São João a Memory Record , draws attention to the fact that Aldeia de São João integrates the "smoke signal" route that left Tatuapara, in Praia do Forte, to Salvador.

1 - 1 (14).jpg

Fernando Fonseca photo

The smoke signal was the way the Portuguese found to warn of the danger that was coming by the sea.

Source: taken from the book Mata de São João a Memory Record of Erenilda Amaral


In order to carry out both works: assembling this report, No. 1 by Assum Preto, and creating the base video for the animation, it was essential to know the history and the people of the place.


Within us it was pulsating to make a video projection that the people could “see and identify with” as a significant part of what we were doing. So did the people of the city hall!

Combining the two movements, Assum Preto and the mapped projection of Mzad, our trips to Mata de São João intensified to carry out the research.

We took pictures of ribbons, of people, of sacred images ... we collected images from the archives of the city hall, we watched countless videos, we read books and, mainly, we talked with many people.

Even with all this, we did not imagine the scale of the party. There are four days with intense programming ... it takes a lot of breath to follow everything ... we only take a few pieces ... it takes a lot of time to elaborate everything we live ...

The program includes presentations by local groups, great stars of Bahian music, carnival blocks, bands, washing, electric trio, horse racing, capoeira, bicycle racing, athletics ... in addition to the novena that ends with the procession through the streets from the old Bonfim road, leaving Preta's house to the Church ...

The movement is intense!

Long live Senhor do Bonfim!


Fesa do Bonfim de Mata de São João - baianas

According to Erenilda Amaral, organizer of the book Mata de São João um Registro de Memória , the Festa do Senhor do Bonfim in Mata de São João began in the 18th century, more precisely in February 1756.

The novenary started with the washing of the church and in the last three days of the novena the party took place in the square with presentations of drumming and philharmonic.

Last Sunday there was the procession and the Solemn Mass in the morning. On fat Monday in Bonfim the horse race was held.

Today, in 2019, the same ritual takes place in an expanded form, with the festivity being anticipated for the beginning of the novena, instead of happening at the end.

Focused on the memory of ancestors, the Bonfim Festival of Mata de São João follows the ancestral trajectory, periodically including contemporary cultural elements, without losing sight of the main thing: faith in Nosso Senhor do Bonfim or Oxalá, which feeds hope daydream of living!

Every year a novelty!

Thus came the stages, the standardized tents, the electric trios ...

Mr. Afonso tells us about the Bonfim Party of yesteryear and the Party of today.

This year, innovation was in charge of the projection mapped on the front of the church of Bonfim, whose images reflected the trajectory of the festival through time, the blessing of Senhor do Bonfim and Nossa Senhora da Conceição and the request for peace, love and love. prosperity for people.

The procession is one of the most anticipated moments for everyone! In front of him, the Candomblé priestesses, dressed in Bahian or liturgical clothes, open “paths” for the people who follow them.

Carrying clay pots with scented water - water with a lavender scent - and flowers, usually white, the Bahian women leave the front of the city hall towards the Bonfim Church.

Mother Adélia, from the Ilê Omim Axé yard, leads the procession throwing white corn at people. White corn, in candomblé, is an offering from Oxalá, and at that moment it is used to bless everyone with the opening of paths, peace, prosperity and love.

Following the baianas comes fanfare, the Children of Gandhy, the donkey and the people driven by the faith that moves mountains.

The mapped projection was beautiful! Look! The company Mzad Eventos who made it.

"Have you ever been to Bahia, do you deny? No? Then go! Who goes to" Bonfim ", my deny, Never wants to go back. He was very lucky, very lucky, very lucky" (Dorival Caymmi)

Look at the procession there !!! Watch the video!


The origin of the cult of Senhor do Bonfim comes from the city of Setúbal in Portugal where, in 1669, a small church called Anjo da Guarda was first built and then the Senhor do Bonfim church.

The belief in the saint gained strength in Portugal after a promise made by Dom João V, for the restoration of his father D. Pedro II's health, in front of the image of Senhor do Bonfim.

Bonfim Church of Setubal

Photo: Francisco Oliveira Website: Andarilhar

The promise made by the sea-and-war captain, Theodózio Rodrigues de Faria, born in Setúbal, during a storm on the high seas, brought to Salvador, on April 18, 1745, the replica of the image of Senhor do Bonfim and of Nossa Senhora da Guia.

Only in 1754, after the completion of the internal works, the images were taken from the Chapel of Penha to the Holy Hill. During this period, Senhor do Bonfim's devotion to the Brotherhood of Laity was created and recognized by Archbishop Dom José Botelho de Matos.

The liturgical feast dedicated to Senhor do Bonfim begins in 1773, on the second Sunday in January, Sunday of Epiphany, that is, the moment of Jesus' revelation to the world.

On that same date, due to the preparations for the feast, the Brotherhood of Lay Devotees forced slaves to wash the Church.

At first, the festivities had characteristics of Portuguese traditions, then, over time, Senhor do Bonfim was syncretized with Oxalá and the party took on another format: the Brazilian one.

In Africa, ancestors held a special service on hills, making a procession with pots of water for washing the sacred place.

In the cult of Senhor do Bonfim, in the Sacred Hill, slaves had, by order of the brotherhood, to wash the temple for the celebration of Senhor do Bonfim, Jesus Christ, the son of God, invoked as Sovereign Father of all Saints.

The memory of the celebration held in Africa and the way that the slaves were present in the homage to Senhor do Bonfim, washing the space on a sacred hill, may have been the link that constituted religious syncretism and the dimension of the festival, sustained by faith in Oxalá , Senhor do Bonfim or Jesus Christ, depending on who speaks.

“It is the moment when these Africans and Afro-descendants build a collective identity and recognize themselves as a solidary community,

even if hierarchical ”as Érika Mendes quotes.

For some authors, syncretism occurred, visibly, from the washing of Bonfim.

The year 1804 is considered the first year of official washing, Luís Américo Bonfim tells us, in the text “Lavagem do Bonfim: Traditions and Representations of Faith in Bahia”.

In 1890 there was a ban on washing inside the temple and the ritual started to be performed outside the church, in the churchyard and on the stairs.

We find many writings about the Senhor do Bonfim Festival. The story is more or less the same, with a few variations. The story of Senhor do Bonfim in Mata de São João, often resembles the story of Senhor do Bonfim on the Holy Hill, but what really matters is FAITH in walking with the Great Father!

“Walking with ƒis I go, that faith doesn't usually go!" (Gilberto Gil)

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