Passos ("Steps") are Stations of the Cross. They consist of tiny chapels or altars embedded in the walls of eighteenth-century constructions in some Brazilian colonial towns.
They remain closed all year except for one day during Semana Santa -- Holy Week -- when they are opened for the Procession of the Meeting, or Procissão do Encontro in Portuguese.
During this special event, a procession made up of women leaves a church carrying an image of Holy Mary, while a group of men leaves another church with an image of Jesus carrying His cross and reenacts His steps - the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. This procession is also known as Procissão de Nosso Senhor dos Passos, or Procession of Our Lord of the Steps (or Stations). The two groups meet at a determined spot for prayers and chants, including Veronica's chant.Famous Passos
In Brazil, some of the best-known Passos can be found in Paraty, on the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and in the colonial towns of Minas Gerais. They were introduced in Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers.
In Paraty, for example, there are six Passos; in Tiradentes, Minas Gerais, there are five which open every Holy Week and one that has been closed since the nineteenth century, according to historian Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho.Varying Dates
The Procession of the Meeting is usually on Holy Friday, but it may take place before that depending on the town and the year, so visit official websites for cities and churches to find out when the Passos will be open.