During our visit to Northern Portugal, we spent some time in the city of Braga. While we were wandering the streets, I was startled to discover a couple of signs imploring people to bomb Jesus! “What th–?” I stammered. I mean, the Portuguese are predominantly Catholic, so how can they allow this???
Now, if one were to print a picture of Muhammad for instance, even one where he’s uncharacteristically handsome, you can rest assured that a mob of Muslims will swarm your offices armed with pickaxes, AK-47s, grenades, maybe a small nuke or two, and at least one pair of opened scissors. But what happens when someone says “bomb Jesus?” Nothing! Today’s Christians always get the short shrift when it comes to killing unbelievers!
And so when I saw this restaurant had even changed its name in order to exhort people to commit that violence, I’d had enough. I stormed into the restaurant and demanded to see the owner. While I waited, I grew very suspicious because I noticed that they didn’t even have a water-to-wine bar. Ppphlphth.
Well, ahem, it appears we haven’t been paying as much attention to our Portuguese lessons as we should. After hearing me out, he gently reminded me that “bom” means “good” in Portuguese.
To salvage my honor, I harrumphed just a bit and adjusted my pants. “Yeah but, if you’re saying there’s a good Jesus, you’re implying there’s a bad one as well, right? So where is this Bad Jesus?”
At that point, I launched into a diatribe that somehow led to referencing the former Major League baseball player named Jesus Alou. For some reason that only confused matters. Especially since the Portuguese know as much about baseball as Americans know about the color of Putin’s underwear. (My guess: It’s very, very black, just like his soul.)
Speaking of Jesus Alou, why is it mostly only Spanish-speaking people who name their children Jesus? How come no Hindus or Japanese ever do? Jesus Yamamoto would be a bad-ass name name for the leader of a Yakuza gang. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the Portuguese are unfailingly polite, especially to estrangeiros, but I’m telling ya, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy who ushered me out of that restaurant was Bad Jesus himself. I dusted myself off and proceeded to walk around the sanctuary as if I were just a tourist. Which I was. And am. So there, you can’t take that away from me, Bad Jesus!
The Bom Jesus de Braga Sanctuary overlooks Braga, giving it some of the same appeal we get from castles: gorgeous views, a little bit of history, getting kicked out of restaurants, and being beaten up by Jesus.
Anyway, once we got all the Bom Jesus stuff straightened out, we realized that we were in the middle of another UNESCO heritage site. There are 1,155 of those in the world, and so every time we’re in one, we say, “Cool! That makes only–”(here we invariably find a reason to wipe our hand over our mouth) “…mmnmnmn to go!” All I know is at this rate, in order to see them all, we’ll be finishing off the last one on or about my 153rd birthday. And that’s just a guess because we don’t actually know how many we’ve already seen. Or even how old I am.
Like so much of Europe (actually all of it), it’s old. The occupation and subsequent development of the site as a holy place dates all the way back to the 14th century, when Joe Biden was still just a child.
Braga certainly does look bragworthy from this vantage point. By the way, do they call people who live in Braga Braggadocios?
There are parts of the Bom Jesus complex that are reminiscent of an amusement park, albeit without any rides like “the Roller Coaster of the Eleven Apostles” (Judas was of course kicked off), or the “Log in Your Eye Water Slide,” or “It’s a Small Purgatory.” In fact, there weren’t even any Mary-go-Rounds, which was a major surprise.
For those of you who can’t keep from stairing, there’s a whole set of them you can climb if you’re so inclimbed. I thought if you made it all the way to the top, you’d get some sort of ribbon or sticker or sucker, but no-o-o. Apparently our reward for that will be in heaven. Or maybe the prize was just to see the basilica at the top of the stairs.
I poked my head inside the basilica (note that I didn’t put my foot inside… I’ve sworn I’ll never step foot inside a European church or basilica again, if nothing else out of fear of getting basilicaitis, a known infliction of travelers who have seen one too many ostentatious displays of wealth from those who also tout the importance of helping the poor), and took a couple of photos of what made this particular basilica unique. So now I know how to sneak into a basilica without being caught… unique up on it!
While running up the stairs (okay, yeah, it was a slow crawl with a stop every four steps to put my hands on my knees, but let’s not get caught up in semantics, eh?), I noticed that some of the fountains had water pouring out of different orifices, so I took a picture of each one.
Turns out, it is a thing. The five flights of stairs are interspersed by landings with allegorical sources for the five senses: vision (well, maybe crying like a big baby is more like it), smell (never mind that it looks like he has a bad case of the snots), taste (never mind that it looks like he’s barfing), hearing (quite the bad ear infection!), and nice jugs.
Okay, if you’re skeptical that the last one really is nice jugs, I’d curious to know what sense you think this is portraying? I think they might’ve veered from the five senses idea to the seven deadly sins, and went straight to penis envy, even though the official description lists it as a water jug (yeah, right). Actually, the sense they’re trying to portray is touch, so, um, yeah. Frankly, there have been too many young lives irreparably damaged by predatory priests to make a joke here. Way too many. Truth be told, I’m still a little creeped out by this fountain.
Back to frivolity: if stairing isn’t your thing, you can always take a Tram-a-dol and save your lungs from breathing in all that extra air.
All in all, we felt Bom Jesus was a worthy addition to the “Sights of Braga: The Ones You Gotta See Or You’re Going to Hell” list.
Of course, if you do get sent down there you might meet this hamster, who tried to sneak in a bunch of popcorn to a movie theatre. Shame, hamster! Shame!