Church of Our Lady of Glory

Church of Our Lady of Glory

Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Religious Architecture

The church is built on a hill by the bay which became known as Outeiro da Glória after 1671, when António de Caminha, a native of Aveiro, built a small chapel there with that name. One of the last and decisive battles in the expulsion of the French from the area was fought there on 20th January 1567, during which the founder of the city, the militia commander Estácio de Sá, was fatally wounded. The existing church was built between 1714 and 1739. Its design has been attributed to lieutenant-colonel José Cardoso Ramalho, at the time an engineer of the captaincy of Rio de Janeiro. Over the course of the 18th century, the festivities of Our Lady of Glory became the most popular event of its kind in the city. The architecture of the church is a unique example of the art of Portuguese military engineers in relation to the period when it was built and its features – it consists of two volumes with elongated octagonal foundations with a square bell tower in front. The baroque dynamism of the elongated octagons distinguishes it from the poly- gonal churches that were built until then in Brazil, such as the Chapel of Our Lady of Patronage in Paraíba and the Chapel of the Tower of Garcia D’Ávila in Bahia, which were central and classical. It also stands out from the numerous octagonal churches built in Portugal in the early 18th century which had a clear Italian influence. The Church of Our Lady of Glory is predominantly Portuguese plain architecture with the corners accentuated by stone pilasters, ending in a heavy-looking cymation, also made of stone, and crowned by solid pinnacles. The ceiling of the nave, which forms a terrace instead of a roof, is a unique example in Brazil, but it can also be seen in the convent of Mafra and the cathedral of Évora. The three lias portals date from the second half of the 18th century, i.e. they were built later than the rest of the building. The interior has the same plain architecture, with walls and vaults painted in white, divided by cymatia and a double row of pilasters. The main decorative elements are the panels of continuous tiles that embellish the nave and chancel. They depict scenes from the Song of Songs and are typical of the Joanine baroque style, dating from 1735 to 1740. The two altarpieces in the nave are late rococo from the late 18th or early 19th century, with a simple composition and featuring the typical central panel and side decoration of Rio de Janeiro’s wood carving of the time. The sacristy that surrounds the chancel has a 19th-century chest of drawers and 18th-century tile panels featuring hunting scenes from the same period as those of the nave. The church is built on an elevated churchyard paved with large flagstones, which one can reach through two wide stone staircases, between which there is a niche with a copy of the image of Our Lady of Glory, the original of which can be found in the city of Lagos, in the Algarve. During the major restoration work carried out in the 1940s, the polychrome of the altarpieces was removed, as was the painting that depicted the assumption of the Virgin Mary on the chancel vault. This accentuated the plain sobriety of the monument’s architecture.

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