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Church of the Blessed Sacrament of St Anthony, Recife, PE

The church is located in front of Praça da Independência, in the Santo Antônio neighbourhood.

Church of the Blessed Sacrament of St Anthony, Recife, PE

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 13/02/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

The Blessed Sacrament of St Anthony Parish Church is one of the most beautiful temples in Recife. It is colonial-Baroque in style, its construction began in 1753 and was completed in 1790, and it was dedicated to St Anthony. The church is located in front of Praça da Independência, in the Santo Antônio neighbourhood.

In the place where the temple was built used to be the trenches of the Dutch invaders and the famous Gunpowder House. Hence, in the year 1752, the Brotherhood of the Santíssimo Sacramento da Matriz do Corpo [Blessed Sacrament of the Body] decided to acquire the land and build a church measuring 100 palms long by 50 wide.

The building’s façade is beautiful, featuring scrolls and shells on the portals that were made with reef sandstone. There is a monstrance in the pediment, a twist in the base of the towers, and a cross. At the entrance of the temple, two chapels call the attention of visitors: that of Our Lady of Mercy and the baptistery with its baptismal font.

On its main altar is a throne with a Crucifix, flanked by niches containing the images of the patron St Anthony and the martyr St Sebastian, as well as the tabernacle that houses the Blessed Sacrament. Several side altars complement the temple nave.

Complete with gilded carvings, the high altar is Rococo in style. On this altar are also several paintings on the walls, a crucifix in ivory and an image of St Anthony.

A lush glass chandelier hangs in the central nave. The lining decoration was complemented with panels by Sebastião da Silva Tavares, a famous 19th century sacred painter. Above the wall of the atrium, two Chinese lions can be seen.

Eight altars, two nave chapels, an upstairs consistory, two lines of pews and two sacristies on either side of the main chapel can also be appreciated. The parish house, residence of the parish priest, is situated on one side of the church. Its side, in turn, is on Nova Street, and its back opens onto the narrow Pedro Ivo Street.

The tower of the St Anthony Parish Church is covered with tiles. On the northern face is a clock of German origin. Five Roman arches of carved stone decorate the temple’s façade. Its windows are framed. The pediment, adorned with shells and scrolls, contains the emblem of the Third Order, enormous torches and a cross, all in stone.

The painting and the gilding of the church were done by Manuel de Jesus Pinto from 1790 to 1805. On the consistory altar is a panel of the Holy Spirit by the same painter.

In the baptistery is a painting from the early 19th century – The Baptism of Jesus – by José Elói, who was also responsible for painting the panels of the church of the Monastery of St Benedict in Olinda.

The cemetery is located in the inner part of the right side of the parish church. The headless bodies of the insurgents of the 1817 Pernambuco Revolution are buried there. In addition to these, in the tombs are the remains of Florismundo Marques Lins, the 2nd Baron of Utinga, and Jerônimo Vilela de Castro Tavares – poet, politician and journalist.

However until the mid-19th century, there were several types of burial in the St Anthony Parish Church. Suicides, condemned Catholics and slaves, for example, were buried in separate tombs – something that was seen as a humiliation from a social point of view.

In addition to some panels, in the sacristy of the church is a washbasin made of marble and a large chest of drawers with four drawers and Rococo drawings that was donated in 1794 by Father Feliciano José Dornelas.

With three carved stone Roman arches, masonry work, a set of doorways, acanthus leaves, decorative elements, as well as stone carvings in the towers and façade, the parish church has one of the most beautiful frontispieces in Brazil. Undoubtedly, the Parish Church of the Blessed Sacrament of St Anthony is one of the postcards of the city of Recife.

Recife, 5 December 2003.
(Updated on 25 January 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.

sources consulted

BARBOSA, Antônio. Relíquias de Pernambuco. São Paulo: Ed. Fundo Educativo Brasileiro, 1983.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.

GUERRA, Flávio. Velhas igrejas do Recife, Olinda e Igarassu. [Recife?: s.n., 196?].

_________. Velhas igrejas e subúrbios históricos. Recife: Fundação Guararapes, 1970.

IGREJA Matriz do Santíssimo Sacramento de Santo Antônio [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 10 fev. 2017.

MENEZES, José Luiz Mota. O Recife e as construções religiosas. Arrecifes: Revista do Conselho Municipal de Cultura, Recife, ano 3, n. 2, p. 27-31, 1987.

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Pernambuco preservado. Recife: Ed. do Autor, 2002.

how to quote this text

Source:  VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Igreja Matriz do Santíssimo Sacramento de Santo Antônio, Recife, PE. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.