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Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Militares [Our Lady of the Conception o

The Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Military is located on the street Rua Nova in the Santo Antônio neighbourhood, right in the heart of Recife.

Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Militares [Our Lady of the Conception o

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 15/04/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

The Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Military is located on the street Rua Nova in the Santo Antônio neighbourhood, right in the heart of Recife. According to historical records, on 19 March 1725, the military of the Rosary of the village of Santo Antônio do Recife (officers, sergeants and soldiers of the Rifles and Cavalry Corps) requested the creation of a Brotherhood of Servicemen and the construction of a church that was theirs, under the invocation of Our Lady of the Conception.

Some time later, the servicemen wrote a letter to the King, which among other things said that in order to complete the construction of his Church under the invocation of Our Lady of the Conception, His Majesty must help with something.

There are indications that the construction of the church began in 1710. At that time, a writer recorded: there was a beautiful church built by servicemen in praise of their patron saint.

And although construction was completed in 1771, the rich interior finishes were only finished in 1870. The church is a treasure of 18th century Baroque architecture. Although the church has a single nave and side corridors, its interior is richly crafted. It can be accessed through five doors, and of these, three open directly to the central nave.

The temple features a chapel, an altarpiece, a high altar and a central arch decorated with golden carvings. A beautiful niche in the centre of the altar has an image of Our Lady of the Conception, and above the arch of the presbytery is the colourful coat of arms of the secular brotherhood.

The church has two side altars, carved in wood, with a large crucifix and 18th century images, including St John the Baptist. The pulpit and the tribunes were carved in a D. João V style, and there are two beautiful sacred panels between the altars and the ceiling.

The temple’s ceiling, in contrast, is the most ornate in Recife. Its windows and doors are decorated with crafted valances. The choir ceiling, presenting a historical panel of the First Battle of the Guararapes Mountains, was painted in 1781. Painted on boards, the following text is written on the panel:

VICTORIA REACHED BY THE PORTUGUESE IN THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE GUARARAPES MOUNTAINS ON 19 APRIL 1648, AGAINST THE DUTCH, WHO NUMBERED 10,500 MEN, AND WE 2,500 WITH INDIANS AND HENRIQUES, AMONG THE MOST HONOURABLE BATTLES THAT THERE HAD BEEN IN 7 STRAIGHT YEARS, FREED THIS ENTIRE CAPTAINCY FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE DUTCH BARBARIANS, AND OFFERED IT AS FAITHFUL VASSALS TO OUR SOVEREIGN KING. AND FOR THIS ETERNAL MONUMENT, THE ILLUSTRIOUS MOST EXCELLENT MR JOSÉ CEZAR DE MENEZES GOVERNOR AND CAPTAIN GENERAL IN PERNAMBUCO, AGAIN ORDERED THIS MEMORABLE VICTORY TO BE RECORDED IN 1781.

The pulpit, containing shields, angels and caryatids on its angles is rococo in style. The Baroque-Rococo church ceiling, featuring camellias, flowers and scrolls, has a painting in its centre of the Virgin Mary stepping on the serpent and surrounded by angels. Above the Virgin is a block of clouds with the Eternal Father. All this contrasts with the style used in the main chapel and the chancel arch (D. João V), which shows in its upper part 19th-century Brazilian Empire weapons.

The choir, with a gilt carved balustrade, is supported by columns and walls. There are painted panels and gilded carvings on the nave’s ceiling and across the wall where the chancel arch and the side altars stand. One of the panels highlights a large figure of Our Lady of the Conception, surrounded by angels, carrying a dove – the symbol of the Holy Spirit – in one of her hands. In another standing panel is the Virgin Mary illuminated by a ray of light and carrying the Baby Jesus in her womb.

Another large panel in oil on wood details the Battle of the Guararapes Mountains, fought in 1648. In this battle, 3,500 Luso-Brazilians, commanded by Filipe Camarão, Vidal de Negreiros and Henrique Dias, defeated an army of 5,000 Dutch. This panel was prepared by the painter José de Oliveira Barbosa, who at the time was a member of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Conception of the Soldiers.

The sacristy of the temple is quite large and contains rosewood furniture, pictures, graves and vaults on the walls and on the floor, and a stone washbasin. Remains are also present in the side corridors of the building; there rest the mortal remains of members of the Brotherhood and nobles.

The Torchlight Procession regularly had its origin in the church, but this religious manifestation was ended in 1853 by order of Bishop Dom Manoel Pereira.

Visitors should see the Museum of Sacred Art, which was set up in the temple in 1966. There are several works carved in wood and polychrome clay from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Among other artefacts of great historical value, there are also some religious vestments embroidered with threads of pure gold.

 

Recife, 14 November 2003.
(Updated on 21 November 2007).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.

sources consulted

BARBOSA, Antônio. Pernambuco preservado. São Paulo: Editora Fundo Educativo Brasileiro, 1983.

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

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

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Pernambuco preservado: histórico dos bens tombados no Estado de Pernambuco. Recife, 2002.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Militares, Recife, PE.Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.