Parish Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian

Parish Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian

Igarassu, Pernambuco, Brazil

Religious Architecture

The location of the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian was the site of several battles between the native inhabitants and the Portuguese, whose colonisation efforts were meant to protect the northern limits of the Pernambuco Captaincy. Two legends permeate the history of the church dedicated to those saints: the blindness of the Dutch when they tried to set the edifice on fire in the 17th century; and the protection of Igarassu town against the plague affecting the captaincy in the 18th century. Commissioned by the donatory Duarte Coelho himself in 1535, it is one of the main buildings featured in Frans Post’s paintings of 17th-century Igarassu. At the time it comprised a simple chapel with a triangular pediment and a central door – a feature which survived various alterations over the centuries. Its current volume dates from 1755, though presenting architectural and decorative features resulting from 19th-century interventions. The interior is notable for the 18th-century paintings depicting episodes from the Dutch war and the city’s daily life, in the sacristy and choir space, and for the chapel’s arch covered with Joanine-style carving work. In the 1950s, its baroque features were supplanted by elements of Jesuit architecture, marking a return to the formal and sober patterns of the Mannerist style. As a parish church it was designated a monument by IPHAN in 1951.

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