Religious tourism is growing all over the world. It goes far beyond visiting old churches, it is a way of finding and living your spirituality no matter what your faith is.
Even though Brazil is predominantly Catholic, there are also holy places to visit for Protestants, Jewishs, Spiritists, Buddhists, Muslims, Afro-Brazilian and other denominations.
If you are looking for a deep connection to your spirituality here’s a few places you can include in your itinerary in Brazil.
The most famous Catholic temple in Brazil is the Sanctuary of Our Lady Aparecida, in São Paulo. Every October millions of pilgrims head to the church to attend the feast of the saint on the 12th.
Other incredible feast in honor of Our Lady takes place in Belém do Pará. The Círio de Nazaré brings together over 2 million pilgrims every year in October 13th.
As a huge part of the traditional popular feasts in the Brazilian inland territories you will find Festa do Divino. The Festa do Divino is so important in Goiás that you can visit a sanctuary dedicated to celebrations and pilgrimages. It is called Santuário Basílica do Divino Pai Eterno and receives pilgrims on the first Sunday of July for the festivities.
The Passion of Christ is the most important celebration to the Catholic Church. Since 1968, every year at Holy Week, lots of Catholics head to Pernambuco where Nova Jerusalém, the biggest staging of the Passion of Christ in Brazil, takes place. It is a thrilling experience even for those who aren’t Christians because of the magnitude of the spectacle.
Pernambuco has numerous historical churches. Thinking of it, the government of Recife installed the Sacre Recife Itinerary comprehending 7 temples: 6 Catholic Churches and 1 Synagogue.
Minas Gerais is known by the old historical cities that have grown around the baroque and rococo style. There are lots of churches in the historical circuit – Ouro Preto, Mariana, Tiradentes, São João Del Rey and others – in this particular style where you can find art pieces made by Aleijadinho, one of the most important artists of his time. Minas also have a route called Caminho Religioso da Estrada Real that is the biggest religious itinerary in Brazil, summing 38 cities from 2 states, and the only official trail connected to Camino de Santiago de Compostela out of Europe.
Bahia is another state that comes to mind when the subject is religious tourism. In Salvador there are a lot of historical churches and events that attract pilgrims. Every January near the feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) happens the Lavagem do Bonfim, where the baianas wash the stairs of Senhor do Bonfim Church. The city is also the home of Irmã Dulce – 1st Brazilian female Saint – and her charity works.
Madre Paulina was an Italian immigrant nun that was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2002. There is a basilica dedicated to her in Santa Catarina and the region also has ecotourism and gastronomy attractions. Nova Trento, the city where the basilica is located is the second city that receives more pilgrims in Brazil, after Aparecida.
Also at South Brazil, Campo Mourão, has the Faith Route that happens every 2 months starting from the Saint Joseph Cathedral, visiting at least two municipalities and passing by sacred places, from Catholic, Ukrainian or other religions. The purpose is to offer the pilgrims an intense program during the day, consisting on hiking, prayers, reflections and celebrations. The Faith Route is a religious and sustainable tourism that involves pilgrims families and community hosts on a healthy religious practice.
Frei Galvão is the first Brazilian saint, canonized in 2007. It is natural that lots of brazilians venerate him so there is a sanctuary dedicated to the saint in Guaratinguetá, near Aparecida do Norte. Along with the Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida and Santuário de Frei Galvão, there is also Canção Nova at Cachoeira Paulista. The three destinations, Aparecida do Norte, Guaratinguetá and Cachoeira Paulista complete a religious itinerary in Vale do Paraíba.
Protestantism is growing in Brazil and it is divided in many segments and the most followed are pentecostal and neopentecostal. The 10 biggest protestant fronts are: Assembleia de Deus, Igreja Batista, Igreja Presbiteriana, Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, Congregação Cristã no Brasil, Igreja do Evangelho Quadrangular, Igreja Deus é Amor, Igreja Adventista, Igreja Internacional da Graça de Deus and Igreja Mundial do Poder de Deus. Among them, there are congresses and reunions that bring together lots of people.
The biggest protestant temples in Brazil are Templo de Salomão (Igreja Universal), Grande Templo Cuiabá (Assembleia de Deus), Templo da Glória de Deus (Igreja Deus é Amor) and Cidade Mundial (Igreja Mundial do Poder de Deus).
Also present in Brazil, the Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELB), gathers about 250,000 members in 2000 worship places throughout the country.
Spiritism is the third biggest religion in Brazil, therefore there are new itineraries being built around this denomination.
Every year around 2 thousand people go to Sacramento, in Minas Gerais, where the Spiritism was born in Brazil.
Uberaba, located in the Triângulo Mineiro, is one of the most important inland cities in the state of Minas Gerais. The most famous Brazilian medium, Chico Xavier, lived in Uberaba so the city has been added to the spiritual itineraries for those who follow the teachings of Allan Kardec. There is a place called Casa de Memórias e Lembranças Chico Xavier, a museum dedicated to tell the story of the medium and share his message. You can also visit the Spiritist Group of Pray, the Memorial in honor of Chico Xavier and his grave. Uberaba is also the birthplace of Carlos Baccelli, Celso de Almeida Afonso and Alaor Borges Junior, other three important mediuns in Brazil.
The Spiritist Itinerary of Minas Gerais starts at Uberaba, passes by Araxá and ends at Sacramento. The important spots visited are the first Spiritist School founded in Brazil – Colégio Allan Kardec – along with charity hospitals, the places where Chico Xavier has attended and Spiritists Houses as Casa Espírita Antusa, Centro Espírita Aurélio Agostinho, Casa do Caminho and Centro Espírita Sacramento Dona Heigorin.
The Spiritist Itinerary is a part of Circuito Turístico dos Lagos, that comprehend 17 cities being 9 in Minas Gerais and 8 in São Paulo, integrating the two states.
The largest Buddhist temple of Latin America is the Zu Lai Temple, located in Cotia, metropolitan region of São Paulo. In 150 thousand square meters, there are nature, preserved Atlantic Forest and plenty of room for prayer and a true meeting with your spirituality.
The Afro-Brazilian cults as Candomblé and Umbanda were instituted by the slaves in the colonial times between the centuries XVI and XIX. The feasts calendar in Candomblé isn’t fixed, so there are seasonal celebrations, mostly somehow connected to the Catholic celebrations because of the syncretism. There are Oxóssi celebrations in Abril, Xangô celebrations in June, Obaluiaiê and Oxumaré celebrations in August and other Orixás celebrations in September, December, January and February. Even so there are celebrations in other states, Bahia concentrates the most important ones.