Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário [Our Lady of the Rosary] of Boa Vista, Recife
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Last update: 12/01/2017
Located in the Boa Vista neighbourhood, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Boa Vista was built by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men. As the resources of this Brotherhood were very limited; all its patrimony was limited to “a one-storey house of stone and lime, situated on Rua da Glória street, which had been bought by the brothers in 1737 for the sum of eighty thousand réis.”
The site of the temple (donated by the heirs of Field Marshal João Marinho Falcão), was located in the old farm of the Vínculo de Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Coqueiros, which is today called Rua da Conceição [Conceição Street]. Even with the unfinished building, the cornerstone of the church was laid on 26 July 1788, and its first mass was celebrated by Fr Dr Manuel de Araújo Carvalho Gondim.
Its almost life-sized image of Our Lady of the Rosary was an offer from João da Ponte Rego in 1789. It should be noted that at the time, the Brotherhood’s temple was not even ready. The image, entirely carved from wood and coming from Lisbon, is a beautiful example of sacred sculpture.
Because the black men, members of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men, did not have sufficient financial resources, they could only build a modest little chapel, and even so, it took about twenty-five years to complete. Realising that the chapel was already threatening to collapse, some time later, the Brotherhood planned the construction of a larger, Baroque temple.
However, the great protector of this new project was Gervásio Pires Ferreira. Returning to Recife from Portugal, the rich merchant would live in a beautiful house next to the old church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men.
Noticing the physical state of the temple, and being a great devotee of that saint, Gervásio Pires tried to help the black brothers financially, so that they could build a new church. Enthusiastic about this help, the brothers Maria Eugênia do Rosário and Inácio Antônio da Silva secured more donations from a number of people and work began in 1815.
It is not known precisely the date on which the work was completed. The tower, for example, was only erected in 1896. However in 1831, the year in which Gervásio Pires died, the temple must have been completed because the mortal remains of the illustrious merchant and politician were buried there. His tomb is in the ground near the altar of the liturgy. For being quite damaged, the marble epitaph only allows the following words to be read:
Here lies / Gervásio Pires Ferreira / son of / Domingos Pires Ferreira and Joana Maria de Deus / ......... (illegible) ..... good husband and father / .... 1831-188x .. ... Born on 20 June 1765 .......
Another great devotee of this church was the historian Pereira da Costa. In his testament, he determined not to want, when he died, either flowers, or mourning or crying, but to be buried in a black shroud with a white linen cross in a grave of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men, in the Boa Vista neighbourhood. On his tomb in the church, there is a coat of arms identical to that of the State of Pernambuco on which can be read:
F. A. Pereira da Costa. The master of us all – Oliveira Lima. I am a simple Chronicler, like the rude miner who descends to the depths of the Earth, extracts the raw diamond full of impurities, and surrenders to the expert and patient lapidary to give it brilliance and value. 16-12-1851 - 21-11-1923 // A. Flores & Paz, Camboa do Carmo, n. 67.
Until the end of the 19th century, one of the most popular processions left from the temple, proceeding down Rua da Conceição and finishing in the district of Santo Antônio during Holy Week: that of the Good Lord of the Cross.
Today the temple has a chaplain of its own and all the acts of the Catholic liturgy are celebrated in it. In addition to the main altar and some paintings in the sacristy, the church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Boa Vista also has the altars of St Sebastian, St Benedict, the Good Lord of the Cross and Our Lady of Assumption. It should be remembered that annually on 15 August, the image of this last saint is carried in procession.
Recife, 4 August 2003.
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.
FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.
GUERRA, Flávio. Velhas igrejas e subúrbios históricos. Recife: Fundação Guararapes, 1970.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Boa Vista, Recife, PE.Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009