The set of the prophets of Congonhas, in the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos in Minas Gerais, is cohesive by several factors. First, history: they are men that predicted, by mean of messages, the coming of Christ to the world and their words are written in the Holy Scriptures, compiled as the Old Testament. The memory of those men is in the written word and the image to be evoked is distant in time, according to concepts of each period of History. The formation of the prophet’s image is grounded on his mission to exhort the Jews to wait for the Messiah. For this they go on pilgrimages – the walking – and their exhortations and sermons (the writings come later), with metaphorical messages not always understood in their time. The writing is factual, evidence that each prophet existed and double belief: in corporeality, concrete, in prophecy, abstract.
The attributessymbol, emblem or any element, in a sculpture, painting or engraving, used to identify particular saint (doors of the Franciscan and Carmelite churches with the scapular or stigmas). are born from these elements: the phylacteries (bands or scrolls with biblical writings of medieval origin), with the scriptures and the feathers of writers on their hands; the footsteps of the preacher; the tunics and mantles of mystical men; the gestures of the arms while preaching.
In different historical periods they should be remembered as beings beyond their times, mythical and devoted to one mission: never to see their prophetic sayings fulfilled. The memory of the prophets must not to be confused with the so-called false prophets, therefore, they are always represented in a group, the same occurring with the four evangelists and their attributessymbol, emblem or any element, in a sculpture, painting or engraving, used to identify particular saint (doors of the Franciscan and Carmelite churches with the scapular or stigmas). – lion, angelornamental elements commonly used in altars and arches. The little ones are the cherubim and seraphim, archangels are the largest, as teenagers or young adults (in shutters and crownings the altars of almost all churches that Aleijadinho did)., bull and eagle. They were divided into groups according to their importance: major and minor prophets, according to their prophecies and writings. So many other biblical men could be called prophets, such as Moses, but within the divine plan, there are other facts that have distinguished him as the one who showed the way to the Jewish people in the desert, merging evidence of God’s existence such as the Tablets of Law, and the passage through the Red Sea. Others were kings such as David, and John the Baptist, the Forerunner, cousin of Christ, called The voice crying in the wilderness (that is, not all will understand his message and mission). There is also those who belonged to the Jewish religious world, but whose words, during the historical period, were interpreted as predicting the coming of the Messiah. They were incorporated into the Christian world, thus providing an addition to the image formation, such as the sibyls, mythical prophetesses painted by Michelangelo in the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
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