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Church of Saint Cecilia, Recife, PE

The Church of Santa Cecilia, under the invocation of St Cecilia – a Roman martyr and patron saint of musicians.

Church of Saint Cecilia, Recife, PE

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 12/01/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

Built on the same street as the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Church of Santa Cecilia, under the invocation of St Cecilia – a Roman martyr and patron saint of musicians – is located at the beginning of Rua da Conceição street in the Boa Vista neighbourhood.

The temple emerged as a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception. It was built by Cristóvão de Barros Rêgo in 1683. The building was located in front of its founder’s house.

According to historical records dating back to the end of the 17th century, the place was farmland “near the bridge where there was a townhouse with trees and four hundred coconut palms, or however many could actually be found there.” The construction of a chapel, by the way, represented a historical Brazilian symbol of the beginning of population.

In 1643, the Maurício de Nassau Bridge (built by the Dutchman of the same name) linking the island of Antônio Vaz with the other side of the river consolidated the emergence of the new neighbourhood of Boa Vista. In addition, the various reclamations that were undertaken – the Cassimiro reclamation, from which appeared the streets of Aurora, União, Saudade and Riachuelo; the Asseca reclamation, giving rise to the Parque 13 de Maio, on Rua do Lima Street and its vicinity; and the Boa Vista embankment, from which the street of Empress Teresa Cristina emerged – also helped define the neighbourhood.

In the main chapel of Santa Cecilia church, the tomb of Cristóvão de Barros Rêgo is not visible. According to records from the time, it is known that he was buried in the chapel of Our Lady of the Conception “in an open grave on the wall of the main chapel, on the Gospel side, sealed with a stone on which was carved his coat of arms in relief.” Cristóvão de Barros Rêgo was also the great promoter of the urban development of Boa Vista, and the founder of Vínculo da Boa Vista.

The founder of the church, however, was bestowed with a knighthood of the royal house, with the habit of Christ and the lucrative commendation of the same order by the Portuguese Court for having served against the Dutch in the restoration campaign.

With the death of Cristóvão, the Vínculo da Boa Vista began to be administered by his son João Marinho Falcão. After the middle of the 19th century, with the cessation of Vínculos and hereditary estates, the Vínculo de Nossa Senhora da Conceição dos Coqueiros was sold to João Henrique da Silva and his wife Josefa Maria dos Passos e Silva.

After the allotment of the lands of the former link, the descendants of the last owners donate the chapel (practically in ruins) to the Brotherhood of St Cecilia on 31 January 1882. Seventeen years later, the Brotherhood was able to rebuild the small chapel. St Cecilia became the new patroness, protector of musicians and regent of the brotherhood.

Except for the first image of St Cecilia and the image of Our Lady of the Conception placed in a niche of the main altar, nothing remains of the original chapel.

On the frontispiece, ogival arches and a lyre can be appreciated, and the following inscriptions can be seen inside the temple:

Perpetual vault of Master Pedro de Assis’ family, Cathedratic lens of the National Institute of Music of Rio de Janeiro. Recife, May 1910. P.N.A.M.

Venerable Brotherhood of St Cecilia, founded in 1788. 1789-1840 – Operated in the Church of S. Pedro dos Clérigos, transferring at this time to the Church of N. S. do Livramento. 1881 – Erected in the temple of NS of the Rosary of the parish of S. Antonio, coming from there to the Parish Church of S. José. 1898 – At the initiative of Brother Monsignor Augusto F.M. da Silva, installed in this church of N. S. da Conceição dos Coqueiros, then being given possession of it. 1902 – Rebuilt by Brother Manoel Américo and others. 1931 – With valuable donations, roof, ceiling, and several other improvements were made in this temple by the Brothers Antonio Amorim Rabello (judge), Prof. R. Piccolino Fischer Vieira (treasurer), Manuel A. Ferreira and citizen Arnaldo Guedes Pereira.

Provision for the demolition of the church of Saint Cecilia in order to make it possible to widen Rua da Conceição is in the urban plan, because the street is at present totally commercial.

Recife, 12 August 2003.
(Updated on 29 January 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.

sources consulted

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

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

how to quote this text

Source:  VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Igreja de Santa Cecília. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.