Boa Vista Parish Church, Recife, PE
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Last update: 13/02/2017
Located in the Boa Vista neighbourhood, the Boa Vista Parish Church is considered one of the most beautiful temples in Recife. Its construction began in 1784, but the work was only completed 105 years later (in 1889), thanks to the new resources voted for by the Provincial Assembly of Pernambuco.
What records are there of the rise of this church?
The Brotherhood of the Sacrament of the Holy Cross, located in the patio of the same name, had been operating in Recife since 1771. In order to build a church of its own, this Brotherhood asked the king to donate a piece of land located in Boa Vista, facing the former Rua do Hospício dos Padres Esmoleres de Jerusalém street, in 1781.
The king granted the request by donating to the Brotherhood a plot of land at the end of the Boa Vista Reclamation. However, it is worth recording here two important observations: this reclamation is now called Rua da Imperatriz Teresa Cristina; and until the early 20th century, the stretch from Rua da Imperatriz to the present Teatro do Parque was so narrow that it could barely contain the donkey-pulled trams.
The construction of a large church began, and afterwards the temple was transformed into a parish church that presided over all the religious movement in the Boa Vista neighbourhood. Although unfinished, the church was opened for worship on 4 May 1784, and for a long time served as a local cemetery, according to the Acts of the Municipal Council of Recife in 1849.
In that cemetery are: the tomb of Fr Jerônimo de Assunção, a parish priest of Boa Vista who died in 1959; and the remains of José Mamede Alves Ferreira (1867) and Olívio Montenegro (1962). Three tombs that should be there have not been found: revolutionary Filipe Nery Ferreira, Professor Aprígio Guimarães, and Bishop Tomas de Noronha. The mortal remains of Tobias Barreto de Meneses, which were also in this parish church, were taken to the State of Sergipe in 1920.
The main altar of the church does not have any saints: only the Lamb of God and the Blessed Sacrament engraved on the stone itself (by a Pernambuco artist), which are on display daily to the faithful. Inside the parish church are stained glass windows and valuable paintings. Between two figures of seated women, there is a swan with open wings and a long neck. Angels, vases, timepieces and garlands are also there.
O each side of the oratory, there are the Pernambuco and Brazilian flags. At the front of the church are the statues of the evangelists St Mark, St Matthew, St Luke and St John; and from east to west are two tall towers with windcocks on them.
The façade is entirely stonework and unpainted and is Renaissance in style, like the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, a city in the northern Portugal. The stone blocks came from Portugal, and three to four pairs of oxen were necessary to remove them from the Portuguese ships that were anchored in the port of Recife and to take them to the works. There are also eight thick columns on the façade, with Doric capitals (at the bottom) and Corinthian capitals (at the top).
On the left side of the church corridor, you can see three oil-painted panels: Jesus healing a paralytic, Moses raining manna in the desert, and the last supper with the Master and the apostles. On the other side of the corridor are several canvases, painted by renowned Recife artists.
In the 19th century, the Boa Vista Parish Church was already considered to be a luxurious temple, and even had chairs to transport the parish priests when they were going to administer the Viaticum to the dying.
When the great cholera plague occurred in 1871, the image of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos was taken from the Church of the Holy Body to the Boa Vista Parish Church and remained there for three months until the plague was eradicated.
Recife, 1 August 2003.
(Updated on 25 January 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.
FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.
GUERRA, Flávio. Velhas igrejas e subúrbios históricos. Recife: Fundação Guararapes, 1970.
MENEZES, José Luiz Mota. Recife. Arrecifes: Revista do Conselho Municipal de Cultura do Recife, Recife, ano 3, n. 2, [19--].
how to quote this text
Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Igreja Matriz da Boa Vista, Recife, PE. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.