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Monte Santo

There had been no change in these mountains because of Neptune or Volcanic catastrophes, it seemed to us at first glance from our vantage point. The uniform, rounded contours of the mountains, the regular alternation of hills, mountains and valleys in the right conditions, the absence of traces of extinct volcanoes, the layers in the disturbed mountain deposits all precluded even a chance that this metal mass arose here by telluric changes. Following these considerations, we soon bowed to the view that Bendego's iron, as foreign to the place, was thrown

Recovering Bendego meteorite

by unruly natural forces upon this peaceful land, giving us the overwhelming impression of how much the sovereignty of the elements dominates this land. This conviction was very advantageous for us, and in the afternoon we descended contentedly to the camp, along the wide, cobbled road with many steps of the Passion of Jesus.

Monte Santo pilgrimage

Pedra Vermelha owes its development very particularly to the pious zeal of Friar Apolonio, an Italian Capuchin of the Bahia Convent, who raised the aforementioned “Passos"(steps of the Passion of Jesus) on the mountain, and high above the Chapel of Santa Cruz, making it a popular destination. Once upon a time there was a popular belief that climbing the Holy Hill sanctified pilgrims, and the legend still held that certain pilgrims were predestined to be wrested from the power of the devil, who had hitherto cursed the church with their evil treasures, the treasures of pure silver, consecrated to the church and hidden in the neighborhood. In particular, the story is told of a sertanejo who, more than a hundred years ago, had promised then the Governor General of Bahia to give him two silver arrobas weekly: if he obtained the title of Marquis of Minas, which the Governor had reserved for himself, and that the countryman had later died in prison without revealing the secret of the hidden silver (1). These alleged silver mines, according to some, are situated on Monte Santo

Serra Vermelho

itself, according to others in Serra Grande or Serra da Pedra Vermelha; perhaps the discovery of the Bendego iron block has renewed and given rise to such rumors.

After previous ground investigations, we set out on March 20 to visit the bloc's discoverer, Domingos da Mota Botelho, at his Anastacio Farm, six leagues north of Monte Santo. This brave countryman was warned of our coming by the sergeant-major of the nearby district, Mr. Joao Dantas of Camuciata,

1) The author refers here to Belchior (or Melchior Dias Moreya). See, for this, the "Sergipan Circle" (pages 46-62) of Basilio de Magalhaes's "Geographic Expansion of Colonial Brazil". (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. and Geogr. Bras.),