|The church as seen from Ossos Beach . . .|
|. . . and back down from sacred heights|
Mark and I have been to exactly two events at the Igreja Sant’anna in our ten years here. The first, the wedding of a neighbor’s daughter, took place a good seven or eight years ago. It was an interesting wedding, the usual Búzios mix of upscale and downscale, with half the guests hauling over from Germany (our neighbor being German) and the other half more local and decidedly more casual. The service bounced back and forth between German and Portuguese, and I have to say I was never very sure what was going on. But this wedding provided us our first glimpse of the inside of the church, which is usually kept closed except for special occasions: simple, rustic, water-damaged and dignified, just what we had expected.
The second event was just last Friday, this time a funeral. A friend’s mother passed away — at the remarkable age of 96 — and we were called to the chapel behind the church for a velório, or vigil, to be followed by her funeral. I haven’t been to many funerals in my life, and never one in Búzios, so I was caught a bit off guard. Wandering aimlessly through the somber gathering of friends and family paying their respects were bikini-clad tourists in transparent beach cover-ups and floppy straw hats, doing the usual picture-taking and bathroom-seeking that one does at a tourist attraction. I watched as occasionally one or another tourist strolled into the chapel and then stopped short — was this a real coffin, or a prop for more picture-taking? I was both scandalized and charmed. As for the actual funeral service, that, too, took on a very Búzios tone. Since our friend’s mother had died during one of the most important Brazilian holidays, the Proclamation of the Republic, there wasn’t a clergyman to be found, not a priest, not a pastor, not a minister, not even an acolyte. So in the best Quaker fashion, the attendees themselves ran the service. I think it took on a dignity that it wouldn’t have had with any priest. Much better, I thought, and oh so very Búzios. Rest in peace, dear Luisa.
|Chapel at left, steps up to cemetery at right|