Cathedral, Former Parish Church of The Saviour

Cathedral, Former Parish Church of The Saviour

Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil

Religious Architecture

After settling in Olinda, Duarte Coelho built before its guard tower a parish church dedicated to the Saviour. There is otherwise no information about this first church; it must have been provisional and later replaced by a hardier structure. According to all indications, the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the current cathedral (Sé) is from that second phase. In 1583, the Jesuit priest Fernão Cardim described it as being a three-naved church with many chapels, then under construction. But that unfinished parish church was burnt down by the Dutch in 1631. Various paintings by Frans Post, an artist in the entourage of Governor Johan Maurits van Nassau (1637-1644), depict its ruins. Efforts to rebuild the church after 1654 used all the sculpted stonework and kept the old three-naved interior plan – a well-established mother church model in Portugal. Renovations in 1911 gave it a neo-Gothic aspect, further transformed into neo-Baroque in 1936. A 1972 renovation left it with its current appearance. The church had meanwhile lost its carving work and old azulejo tiles, removed during the two previous interventions. But the last one restored the architecture to its former dignity.

José Luiz Mota Menezes