Elroy Christenson



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Salvador, Brazil

Relic room in Bon Fin

"The relic room of the healed, Basilica of Bonfim, Salvador ©2001 Elroy Christenson

Bonfim Cathedral, built in 1745, sits on a penninsula outside of the city center where it became an important church for the slaves and the free Afro-Brazilian community.  Like most of the churches in Salvador, the church has a catholic base but allowances were made for dual meaning with catholic saints also taking on the attributes of African gods. Many locals have relatives who were freed slaves and African culture is very much alive in Salvador including dances with Yoruba chanting.* Worship of African gods is still common, although somewhat hidden, in the catholic churches of the region. Candomblé ceremonies for African deities are carried on here for Oxala, one of the most important Candomblé gods.* Bonfim is known as a healing church. The testimonies of the healed are written in framed documents and replicas of heads, arms, legs, hands and canes are remembrances of those whose healing was successful. Tourists are told that if they wear a ribbon sold by hawkers who surround the church. It is supposed to fall off of its own accord when wearer's wish is granted. Some of these have been known to stay on for more than six months. My wife's stayed on for about two years. Be careful what you wish for.

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updated by Elroy Christenson 9/02/12