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Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral

On 15 August 1939, the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral was laid, designed by French engineer Georges Mounier.

Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral

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Last update: 05/02/2013

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The history of Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral goes back to the early 17thCentury. With the third expedition to Ceará in 1611, Martim Soares Moreno, from the Fort of the Wise Menin Natal, accompanied by Father Baltazar João Barreira and some soldiers, raised a fort in January 1612 called St Sebastian, and built at its sidea small adobe chapel devoted to Our Lady of Consolation.

The fort remained until 1637, when it was taken by the Dutch. The invaders, however, didn’t stay for a long period, as they were massacred by local Indians. The chapel was probably destroyed during this period.

In 1649, with the return of the Flemish to Ceará, a new fort was raised on the left bank of the Marajaik river. The commander, Matthias Beck, named it Fort Schoonemborch, after the Dutch ruler of Recife at the time. From this fort originated the city of Fortaleza.

The Dutch rule lasted only five years (1654), and under the command of Brazilian and Portuguese, its name was changed to Fort of Our Lady of the Assumption (Forte de Nossa Senhora de Assunção).

In the 1820s, next to the Fort, in the same place where once stood the adobe chapel, the construction of a temple in masonry began that took more than thirty years for its completion (1854), and was decreed to be the Cathedral.

A report from engineers in the 1930s revealed that there were cracks in the foundations of the temple. There was much controversy over the construction of a new cathedral somewhere else in the city or in the same ground of the octogenarian church, already without chance of recovery. However, during the term of D. Manuel Gomes da Silva, Archbishop of Fortaleza, the cathedral began to be demolished (1938).

On 15 August 1939, the cornerstone of the Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral was laid, designed by French engineer Georges Mounier. The construction, despite opinions for and against, counted on the commitment of various people and the financial support of many segments of society. The inauguration of Cardinal D. Aloisio Lorscheider as Archbishop of Fortaleza gave strong impetus to the Cathedral construction, and it was finally completed and inaugurated on 22 December 1978.

Below isa brief description of the inside part of the Cathedral:

On left side of the nave, we see the Chapel of St Joseph, Patron Saint of the State of Ceará and of the Fortaleza Cathedral.
On the right we see the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, Patron Saint of Fortaleza.
To the left of the presbytery of the cathedral is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, where worshipers and visitors are invited to stop for a moment and pray, in recognition of the living presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

In the centre of the sanctuary is the altar brought from Verona, Italy [...]

Usually, great cathedrals have crypts. The Cathedral of Fortaleza also has its crypt. At first it was ground-landfill. It is the only crypt that, since its inauguration in 1962, has devoted its space to youth. It was named The Crypt of Adolescents, by D. Antonio de Almeida Lustosa, Archbishop at the time. The crypthonours,with six altars, saints who died in adolescence: Tarciso, Dominic Savio, Pancrazio, Lucy, Agnes and Goretti.
In the Crypt’scentral altar is the image of teenageJesus with open arms, showing the host to all who visit this church. We also find there the Chapel of Christ Resurrected, where bishops and priests are buried.

The Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral is the third largest in the country, with a capacity of hostingfive thousand people. It is a historical monument, located in the city centre, and stands out for its architectural grandeur, its beautiful stained glass windows and its Gothic-Roman style.

Recife, 29 june 2010.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.

sources consulted

CATEDRAL de Fortaleza. In: ARQUIDIOCESE de Fortaleza. Disponível em:. Acesso em: 21 jun. 2010.

CATEDRAL de Fortaleza. São Paulo: Ambrosiana Cia. Grafia e Editorial, [199-?].

how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Fortaleza Metropolitan Cathedral. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009