It’s been fifty years since the bells of Salvador’s Catedral Basílica on the Terreiro de Jesus have rung, and they will begin again today at 6 p.m.
Hereafter they will ring daily at 6 p.m., and before this at 12 noon, and on Fridays they will also ring at 3 p.m.
Today was chosen for this inauguration after the completion of the church’s recent restoration because today, May 10th, is Salvador’s day for celebrating the city’s patron saint, Saint Francis Xavier. Now, this date differs from the official Catholic feast day for this saint, which is the 3rd of December.
This is because it was on May 10th, 1686, that the Salvador city council declared Saint Francis Xavier the city’s patron saint in gratitude for having miraculously caused a cessation of a plague of yellow fever which had swept the city, after a period of prayer to this saint had been declared by the Jesuits.
The Jesuits, who had built the cathedral, were kicked out of Brazil in 1759, and much of their cultural influence was deliberately erased. There is now an attempt underway by the Catholic church in Salvador to revive interest in the old day of celebrating St. Francis.
If they are successful then we can look forward to another festival day beginning with a Mass followed by hoards of cerveja-drinking people in the Centro Histórico, and lots of music and dancing.