Understand how the pandemic slowdown reflects on the resumption of religious tourism in southern Minas | south of Minas

The flexibility of the pandemic has already brought results for the religious tourist routes in the south of Minas. Historic towns in the region, mostly frequented by culture and religious symbols, claim that an improvement in the movement of believers could be noticed after Holy Week.

In the south of Minas, some religious routes such as Cássia, Bom Repouso, Três Pontas, Baependi and Inconfidentes attract tourists from all over Brazil. After the religious period, between 10 and 16 April, the municipality and the religious representatives saw a resumption of the number of visits. Resumption is slower in some places. In others, tourism flies.

Known for the conviviality, always offered to those who arrive in the region, the southern miners are now reopening their arms to the faithful, pilgrims, pilgrims and visitors, who want to explore new routes of a real ‘faith tourism’ in the south of Minas .

Sanctuary of Santa Rita de Cassia

Flexibility of the pandemic reflects the resumption of religious tourism in southern Minas – Photo: Reproduction / EPTV

The town of Cássia was born around the image of Santa Rita, patroness of impossible goals, protector of widows and saint of roses, who was beatified in 1627. In addition to the devotion to the saint, many believers go to the city for the blessing of the Holy Father Donizetti.

According to Diego Borges Dias, Minister of Tourism, tourists are mostly of different origin in Brazil. “For example, they go through Cássia and then also visit other municipalities”.

The increase in the flow of visitors to the city usually occurs in May, the month in which the day of Santa Rita de Cássia is traditionally celebrated.

“In the month of May, especially on the 22nd, which is the day of Santa Rita. Every day ’22’ of every month is remembered as the day of Santa Rita”.

This year, a novelty arrives to add to Cássia’s list of attractions. It is the new shrine to Santa Rita, which will be inaugurated between May 20 and 22. According to Diego, the public is expected to be about 100 to 150 thousand tourists at the inauguration of the site.

The new sanctuary should cover an area of ​​180,000 square meters, of which 100,000 will be for construction. To ensure the comfort of the faithful, the capacity is up to 5,000 seated and about 2,000 standing people.

The entrepreneur who founded the sanctuary, Paulo Flávio de Melo Carvalho, explains that the inauguration will be a moment of faith and dedication.

“It is expected to strengthen the city of Cássia as a destination for religious tourism and a place to live an experience of faith and evangelization”.

The expectation is no different for the municipal authorities. “The current scenario is already one of development and growth of new companies, mainly linked to the food and beverage sector, the accommodation sector and the real estate sector,” emphasizes the Minister of Tourism.

Our Lady of Grace

Image of Nossa Senhora das Gracas is located in Bom Repouso (MG) — Photo: Bom Repouso Municipality (MG)

Visitors travel to the town of Bom Repouso in search of the statue of Nossa Senhora das Graças, which stands about 20 meters high. The “Giant Saint” is the largest heritage site of Bom Repouso and has become a symbol representing the municipality on the route of the faithful.

“Whoever visits our city and is looking for religious tourism, visits our Mother Church, the Cave of Nossa Senhora de Fátima and especially the statue of Nossa Senhora das Graças. Those looking for adventure tourism should visit the falls, especially the one on the wall where the climb takes place.”

According to Talita Bertolacini de Almeida Pereira, Secretary of Social Development, the flow of tourism in the city has fallen sharply after the start of the pandemic, but it is still not quite normal.

“In the month of November we have a significant number (visits), as the day of Nossa Senhora das Graças is celebrated on the 27th of the month”.

Visitors usually stay for a day and sometimes even a weekend. During the holiday period, the stay is usually extended.

According to the secretary, the city is ready to receive new tourists by the end of the year. Bom Repouso is expected to welcome approximately 1,000 new visitors per month.

Flexibility of the pandemic reflects the resumption of religious tourism in southern Minas — Photo: Fernanda Rodrigues/G1

Those arriving in Três Pontas usually look for the Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora D’Ajuda, which houses the remains of Blessed Father Victor. The Memorial, Parque da Mina, and Herma do Padre Victor are also popular destinations for believers.

According to tourismologist Keyre Kelly Ferreira Mariano, other popular places are Carmelo São José, the monument “Nossa Mãe”, the cultural house “Alfredo Benassi” and the municipal park Vale do Sol. In the city, tourism is already taking shape after the easing of the pandemic.

“We are still in the recovery process, but little by little we notice an increase in the tourist flow,” says Keyre.

In general, the main benefits for Três Pontas, according to the tourism expert, are the promotion of tourist activities, the warming up of local trade and the service network. According to information from City Hall, tourists mainly come from the Southeast region and usually stay in the city for one to two days.

There is even more movement in September, thanks to the celebration of the feast of the Holy Father Victor, which takes place on the 23rd. In November, on the 14th, an increase in tourist flow is also noticeable for the local celebration of “Our Mother”, Mother Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Mary.

The expectation in Três Pontas revolves around the increase in visits from pilgrims, pilgrims and tourists. In addition, the return of personal events such as the Canto Aberto Festival, Expocafé and the Festa do Padre Victor, which receives up to 70,000 people.

According to the tourism specialist of the municipality, there is a future project for the creation of pilgrimage routes, in addition to the implementation of an observatory for local tourism. While no date has been set yet, the proposal is due to start in the second half of 2022.

Flexibility of the pandemic reflects the resumption of religious tourism in southern Minas — Photo: Fernanda Rodrigues/G1

In Baependi, tourists search for the history of Nhá Chica, beatified 10 years ago. Within the city, the main tourist attractions are the churches and religious events. The sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, known as the Nhá Chica Church, is one of the main destinations.

According to André Luis Corrêa Santos, sexton of the Parish of Santa Maria de Baependi, the Parish of Baependi will complete 300 years of foundation in 2022, the 2nd oldest in the south of Minas.

Another success is the Matriz Nossa Senhora Montserrat, one of the first churches in the region to be listed by IPHAN – Instituto Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional. André says the church was built in a ‘sui generis’ style that makes it unique in all of Brazil for its Baroque features and also influences of the Rococo style.

“In this church is the main altar where the gold donated by Beata Nhá Chica is found”.

According to Flávia Pelúcio de Lara, culture coordinator, the city government supports tourist events and maintenance in the city. Pilgrimages mainly move the economy, in addition to spreading religiosity, beauties and local culture.

Baependi is visited by tourists from all over Brazil, but visitors mainly come from the Southeast region. Most tourists who go to the city come to visit, ask for and thank the graces received through Beata Nhá Chica.

According to Flávia, tourism is resuming full steam. They receive tourists all year round, but religious festivities such as Semana Santa, Corpus Christi and the anniversary of the death of Beata Nhá Chica increase the movement in the city.

Last year, the city received nearly 5,000 pilgrims and according to the Culture Coordinator, the municipality is working to increase this number.

“We are focused on structuring our city to accommodate a greater number of people so that we can attract more visitors in the near future with responsibility and organization,” says Flávia.

Flexibility of the pandemic reflects the resumption of religious tourism in southern Minas – Photo: Disclosure Caminho das Capelas

The main attractions of Inconfidentes arouse the special interest of pilgrims: they are the religious routes. The municipal administration is responsible for signaling the pilgrim paths that cross the municipality, in particular the Caminho das Capelas, which runs through all the rural neighborhoods of Inconfidentes.

According to the town hall’s press service, the aim of this route is to bring tourism to the interior of the town, where a variety of religious and gastronomic culture reigns.

“The main benefit is to attract visitors to the municipality to take advantage of the local economy,” he emphasizes.

In Inconfidentes, in addition to visitors from different regions of Brazil, there are many believers from congregations in the eastern region of the state of São Paulo. Pilgrim tourism in the city has also intensified again, according to the town hall, with the easing of the pandemic.

According to information from the Culture and Tourism sector of Inconfidentes, the municipality receives more tourists on longer holiday dates, but also on religious holidays such as Holy Week.

“The city has several attractions for pilgrims”.

According to Emerson Fernandes Pereira, head of the Culture and Tourism sector, the most visited points are the Igreja Matriz São Geraldo Magela, the Beata Nhá Chica chapels, the starting point of the Nhá Chica road and the São Judas chapel. There is also the Bar do Maurão, a traditional meeting place for pilgrims.

The management says the municipality is ready to receive new visitors and is expected to receive up to 30,000 pilgrims this year. In future projects, according to the press service, it is to carry out the 2nd walk of the Caminho das Capelas with the support of the City Hall.

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