The most beautiful, historical churches in Brazil are to be found in the city of Salvador, state of Bahia. But no other church in this city, or even in this state, attracts as many churchgoers, tourists and pilgrims and the famous "House of Mercy", as Lord Jesus of Bonfim Church, located on the Itapagipana Peninsula, is called.
The church was built during the period from 1746 and 1754, at the furthest point of Mount Serrat, which the people now call Bonfim Hill or Bonfim Heights, and was built to house the holy image of the Lord Jesus of Bonfim, which was brought from Lisbon, Portugal, to Brazil by the Portuguese Captain Theodózio Rodrigues de Farias in 1745, This was the year that the Captain set up, together with some Catholics, a brotherhood of lay believers who were later called the Devotees of Senhor Bom Jesus do Bomfim, and administered his assets.
The temple, which is evidence of the faith of the Bahian people, was elevated to the rank of Basílica in 1927 in a Papal Letter issued by His Holiness Pious XI.
The architecture of the Basílica, which is neo-classical in style, is in the eighteenth and nineteenth Portuguese churches, with beautiful frescos and tiles. In the inside, there is a rich collection of ornaments and a set of images which in religious iconographical terms
have great artistic and cultural value. Of particular artistic merit are the painting of famous artists, such as the Bahian Antônio Joaquim Velasco, the famous Joaquim Francisco Franco Velasco, and the carvings in the main chapel by Antônio Joaquim dos Santos. A curious artistic detail is the presence in the main panel of the ceiling of figures of some Bahian personalities and of an angel carrying a sphere containing 20 stars, each of which represent one of the Brazilian provinces at the that the temple was built.
The solemn commemorations in honor of the Lord Jesus of Bonfim and His Mother, Our Lady of Guidance, were originally held at Eastertide. They were later celebrated on different dates and it was only in 1773 that they started to be held in January, on the second Sunday after the liturgical date of Epiphany (6 January), which has continued up to the present date.
The largest celebration in Bahia is held in the Basílica, on the Sunday of Bomfim, preceded by a solemn Novena. On the Thursday before the celebration, there is a famous popular display with a syncretism character on the Holy Hill, the washing of the steps and the churchyard, known as the "Washing of Bomfim", whose date is registered in Salvador's tourist calendars.
The Museum of Offerings, which occupies an enormous room situated left by the faithful in thanks for good things that have happened to them. The famous Lord Jesus of Bonfim ribbons date from the start of the nineteenth century, when they were known as "measures" (because they were the same length as the distance from the right to the chest of the image of the Lord Jesus of Bonfim) and, having become a tradition, are today produced in a range of colors.
The Basílica of the Lord Jesus of Bonfim is much more than a religious temple. It is a symbol of the religious culture and faith of Bahian and Brazilian people.
The Brazilian Post is joining in with the celebrations commemorating the presence of the Bonfim Church amongst our people, and marks its participation by issuing a commemorative stamp to celebrate the 250th anniversary of this temple, which is the fruit of the religious soul of all the people who day after day celebrate the beauty of their faith.