Parish Church of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd
Divina Pastora, Sergipe, Brazil
In Europe, the first depictions of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd date from the 18th century. Reaching Brazil through Portugal, this name blended with the pastoral theme expressed in popular and religious representation and became part of the cycle of Christmas festivities in the north-eastern region of Brazil. The image of the Divine Shepherd is depicted in a rural background, seated and dressed as a shepherdess, surrounded by sheep and sometimes carrying the Child Jesus on her lap. In the Parish Church of the city of Divina Pastora in Sergipe, this image is included in a group of sculptures in the altar’s display case and in the central medallion of the nave’s ceiling, which contains a perspective painting done by the Bahian artist José Teófilo de Jesus. There is also a painting under the choir and on the chancel’s ceiling, the latter comprising paintings depicting the Virgin Mary. The high altar boasts gilded and polychrome carving work and has a large niche at the centre, flanked by twisted columns and topped by a canopy. Carving work also covers the crossing arch, side altars, choir sill, pulpit, pelmets and tribune balustrades. These features stand out against the white walls of the nave and chancel. The date 1782 is inscribed on the church’s main façade, certainly referring to its construction. The three doors and five windows on this façade have decoration above the lintel, while the pediment has volutes and the towers are topped by domes. These features convey a certain sense of movement to the rigid façade framed by the cornerstones and an entablature. The space inside is formed by a nave flanked by aisles open to the outside via a portico; the chancel is completely surrounded by the sacristy. Germain Bazin considers that “this arrangement of spacious porticos along the nave is aimed at ensuring shelter for pilgrims”, an option also used at the Bonfim Church in Salvador. Due to its historical and architectural value, this church with all its contents was listed by iphan in 1943.