Church of Saint Rita of the Mulattoes
Parati, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The church dates back to 1722, when a brotherhood of freed mulattoes began to build it, in invocation of the Child Jesus, Saint Rita and Saint Quiteria. Due to insufficient resources to complete the work, they passed it into the hands of the white man’s Brotherhood of the Glorious Saint Rita of Cascia. The church was completed in 1748. The old images of the Child Jesus and Saint Quiteria can still be found at the church. It is a building made of stone and mortar, consisting of a single nave with a side tower that was typical of religious architecture on the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Beside the nave, there is a veranda connecting the sacristy to the belfry, which opens onto an inner courtyard where the Well of Saint Rita and former cemetery were located. Despite the simplicity common to all churches within the area, this church displays more elegance in its curved pediment, the intricate design of the lintels and the decorations above them in the windows and portal and in the pinnacles on the corners of the frontispiece and tower. Inside, there is a polychrome ochre, green and pink rococo carving from the second half of the 18th century. The cyma of the chancel is painted in a rare black marbled effect, which matches the Augustinian habit of Saint Rita. It is identified as the work of Azorean artists who had already worked on the parish church of Florianópolis. After Parati, they continued up the gold road and carried out works at the churches of Cunha and Guaratinguetá. The church houses Parati’s Museum of Sacred Art, which features the liturgical instruments belonging to the three brotherhoods in the city: Saint Rita, Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Benedict, Our Lady of the Remedies.
José Simões Belmont Pessôa