Church of Our Lady of Liberation
Quelimane, Zambézia, Mozambique
It was built by order of the governor and captain general Baltazar Pereira do Lago, in 1776. The construction, interrupted due to his death, was resumed and concluded in 1786, on the initiative of governor António Manoel de Melo e Castro (according to a headstone in the church). Of parochial basis, it became a diocesan cathedral in 1954, with the creation of the diocese of Quelimane. The construction of a new cathedral, concluded in 1974 or 1977, led to the abandonment of the “old” cathedral. This abandonment led to the disappearance of Indo-Portuguese altarpieces and 18th century images of polychrome wood. The building, prolonging the 16th century Mannerist style, displays the Indo-Portuguese traces omnipresent in the few 18th century architectural expressions in Mozambique and even in Angola, which accounts for the fact that this church was compared with the Hermitage of Our Lady of Nazareth, in Luanda (1664), and with that of Our Lady of Popolo, in Benguela (1748). The architectural poverty of Quelimane until the late 19th century, led to the recognition of the Church of Our Lady of Liberation as the most important built testimony of the Portuguese presence in the Zambezi Valley. With two towers on the frontage, capped by cupolas, and a central curvilinear and ornate pediment, it displays a small but elegant scale, with a façade fronting the sea. On the sides, it includes ground-level roofed galleries, similar to the churches in India.
José Manuel Fernandes