Convent of Saint Francis

Convent of Saint Francis

Serinhaém, Pernambuco, Brazil

Religious Architecture

The Franciscan convent of Serinhaém was founded in 1630, shortly before the Dutch invasion of the region, and the actual building work only began in the 1650s The original building does not appear to have been significantly modified, except for the façade, which collapsed in the 19th century and was rebuilt without any regard for the original design in the 20th century. Of the original building, only one of three arches and a fragment of the corresponding cornice survive, together with a hint of the pediment, which must have been triangular, as it was in the neighbouring convent of Ipojuca, which served as a model for other parts of thisconvent:thechurchwithasinglenave,arectangular chancel and an upper choir over the door; wooden side altars without any architectural refinement; a cloister with an arcade on the ground floor and a wooden roof resting on columns on the upper floor. Unlike many similar convents, the Convent of Serinhaém never benefited from any architectural or decorative work to make it more monumental in the same way as other Franciscan convents in the area. A lias washbasin in the sacristy and the 18th-century tiles in the nave are the only luxurious decorative features. The bare cloister demonstrates its faithfulness to the principle of poverty that the Franciscans in this area adopted in the mid-17th century. The extraordinary 18th-century tiles that decorate the entrance door are particularly noteworthy. The tiles are unique in depicting episodes from the life of Saint Benedict, a negro.

Nuno Senos