Basilica of Our Lady of Nazareth (Belém, PA)
Last update: 28/07/2022
The only Basilica in the Brazilian Amazon has its history linked to the discovery of the image of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré by the caboclo Plácido, in Belém do Pará, on the banks of the Murucutu stream, an area that currently corresponds to the back of the Basilica.
This image, regardless of where it was taken, disappeared and reappeared in the same place where Plácido had found it. Interpreting the fact as a divine sign, devotion to the saint acquired an official character and a chapel was built in that place in her honor, today the Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré.
In the period between 1700 – year of the discovery of the image – and 1909 – year of the laying of the foundation stone of the Basilica – some facts contributed to its construction.
In 1700, Plácido built a hut, which became a center of devotion, prayers and miracles. Twenty-one years later, a chapel of mud and straw was built at the suggestion of the Bishop of Pará, Dom Bartolomeu do Pilar, with the collaboration of the politician and devotee Antonio Agostinho. To this chapel, in September 1793, the first Círio arrived. In accordance with ecclesiastical rules, in 1861, the Parish of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré do Desterro was created, now in masonry, which began to be administered by the Barnabite priests (the oldest religious order of clerics in the history of the Church).
On a visit to the city of Belém, the Italian Barnabite priest Luis Zoia visited the small church and proposed the construction of a large temple that would represent the people’s faith in the Virgin of Nazareth.
The project, inspired by the Church of São Paulo, in Rome, was by Italian architects Gino Coppede and Giuseppe Predasso. Coppede, an art nouveau artist, probably made the Basilica his only sacred work, where, due to the profusion of styles, it can be deduced that he gathered “all the most beautiful he found in other churches to put in his own, especially in the decoration of the temple”. He has never been to Belém do Pará and coordinated the work remotely, in Italy, “sending colored plants and, at the time of decoration, drawings with their various numbered parts so that the pieces, coming from abroad, could be affixed in their exact places”. (UMA IGREJA...). Father Luis Zoia acted as an intermediary between the designer and the builders and did not see the finished church.
Its construction began in 1909, at the end of the rubber cycle (1879-1912), and went through both periods of world wars, when there was an economic crisis and trade was interrupted. The difficulties were many and involved, mainly, the material needed for its construction that came from Europe – Carrara marbles, French stained-glass windows, Venetian mosaics, statues of Antonio Bozzano and his son, Augusto – and that, upon arriving at the port of Belém, was taxed by customs. “To release it, Father Di Giorgio went through offices and the Chamber, using all means until he obtained partial or total exemption from the tax.” (UMA IGREJA...). It is due to the vicar of the Church, Father Emilio Richert, who financially managed the work and to Father Afonso Di Giorgio the tireless battle to ask for donations so that the works could be developed progressively.
The Basilica has 5 naves, is 62 meters long, 24 meters wide and 20 meters high, has 2 42-meter high towers, 36 columns of massive granite, 54 stained glass windows (from Paris), 32 mosaic medallions measuring 1.5 meter in diameter, 19 statues of the purest Carrara marble, 9 electronic bells, an organ with three keyboards and 1,100 pipes. (BASÍLICA..., 19--?]
In the Basilica, all points converge towards the altar, where the image of Our Lady is. And it is from there, starting on the right, that the stained glass windows tell stories from the Bible and the mosaics pray the Hail, Holy Queen, through angels. On the side aisles there are also the mosaics of women that are in the Bible and keep virtues that will be found in the Virgin Mary. [...] It was the French priests who defined the themes of the stained glass windows, as well as the images of the statues that would adorn the side altars. (UMA IGREJA ...)
This whole architectural ensemble, considered a work of art and devotion, was only realized because there was the faith of a people, the courage and resolve of the barnabite priests and authorities. On May 31, 2006, it was elevated to the category of Archdiocesan Marian Sanctuary by the then Metropolitan Archbishop of Belém, Dom Orani João Tempesta, and had as rector the Barnabite Father José Ramos das Mercês. changed its name to Basilica-Sanctuary of Our Laday of Nazareth for receiving palmers and pilgrims who go to Belém to thank the various graces received or to make a request to the saint, especially during the Círio de Nazaré, the largest Brazilian religious procession.
Recife, December 23, 2013.
BASÍLICA N. S. de Nazaré, Belém–Pará. [São Paulo]: Basílica de Nazaré, [19--?]. p.
UMA IGREJA italiana no Pará. Disponível em:<http://www.orm.com.br/tvliberal/revistas/npara/edicao7/italiana.htm> . Acesso em: 17 dez. 2013.
PEREIRA, Edenice. Basílica de Nazaré. In: _____. Vem Círio! [Belém, PA], [200_?]. Disponível em:< http://edenice.wordpress.com/basilica-de-nazare/> . Acesso em: 17 dez. 2013.
how to quote this text
BARBOSA, Virgínia. Basílica de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Belém, PA). In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2013. Available from: https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/pt-br/artigo/basilica-nossa-senhora-de-nazare/. Access on: Month. day, year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2020.)