Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and Home of Father Anchieta
Anchieta, Espírito Santo, Brazil
The beginning of the construction of the existing church dates back to the final years of the 16th century, having been finished in the following century. Restored between 1994 and 1997, the old 17th-century façade was recovered with its original simple composition. It has no cornerstones or cymatia, only a flat white wall framing the large central door flanked by two windows and topped by a large rectangular window at the level of the choir, a solution that would also be used in the church of the village of São Pedro in Rio de Janeiro. The solid bell tower on the right rests upon three arches. This exceptional example of vernacular religious architecture promoted by the Jesuits in their missions also features a unique interior with three naves, separated by rows of arches resting upon square bevelled pillars in the corners. Churches with three naves were rare in Brazil. This church is notable for the decoration of the wall of its high altar, which has a central niche flanked by a painting that imitates panels of blue and yellow carpet tiles. This was probably the original decoration of the high altar, later concealed by the 18th-century altarpiece that can today be found in the sanctuary’s museum. The priest’s residence was laid out in the form of a square. With the Jesuits’ departure in 1759, the complex was abandoned and fell into partial ruin. The front wing, a small part of the side wing, and one of the back wings survived. It is believed that Father José de Anchieta lived in the cell existing on the upper floor of the remains of the back wing.