History of the Basilica de Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

Basilica of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach in Salvador
Basilica of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach in Salvador

The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach or Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach is located in the Lower City of Salvador, in Bahia, the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach which is a few metres from the Elevador Lacerda and the Mercado Modelo.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Conception of Praia has a particularity worth highlighting: it was prefabricated in Portugal, the numbered parts transported by caravels across the Atlantic Ocean and finally assembled in Brazil.

Imposing, observing the Baia de Todos os Santos, it is the starting point of the procession with the image of Nossa Senhora da Conceição to the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in the traditional feast of the day of Lavagem do Bonfim where the steps are washed with scented water by Bahian women dressed in white.

The festival takes place every year on the second Thursday of January after the Day of Kings.

Basílica de Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia in Salvador

.Foundation: built in 1549

Location: Rua da Conceição da Praia, s/n, Comércio – Salvador – BA

Video about Basilica of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

See also Churches of Salvador da Bahia – History and Architecture

History of the Basilica of Our Lady of Conception of the Beach

The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach, or Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach, built in 1549, having its matrix raised in 1623 is one of the oldest parishes of the Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia, in Brazil.

The project was developed in Portugal and its current construction, which began in 1739 and ended in 1849, in Baroque style, was made entirely of Lioz stone brought from Portugal, at the request of the Brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Conception of Praia, maintainer of the Basilica.

The stones were glued together with whale oil and the work lasted 300 years, involving three generations of craftsmen.

In 1946, it was elevated to a Sacrosanct Basilica, when the Holy Pope Paul VI declared Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach, the unique and secular Patroness of the State of Bahia.

The plans were made by the military engineer Manuel Cardoso de Saldanha, and the executor of the materials was the master mason Manuel Vicente.

The master mason architect Eugénio da Mota, from Portugal, prepared the stones and accompanied their transport to Salvador, and was also responsible for the building of the temple.

Interior of the Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

Its interior is the first complete demonstration of the Baroque style of Dom João V in Brazil, with the painting of the ceiling of the nave that follows the Baroque illusionist conception of Italian origin by José Joaquim da Rocha.

The monumentality of its façade, with its neoclassical features, is emphasised by the diagonal towers. The church is characterised by Alentejo architecture.

Interior of the Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

It is a prefabricated church in Portugal, made of Lioz stone, which arrived in Brazil in separate and numbered pieces.

Eugênio da Mota, as previously mentioned, was expressly hired to assemble the “architectural jigsaw puzzle”, and his stay in Brazil was extended until the end of the work.

Facade of the Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

The procedure for preparing building parts in Portugal was not limited to elements that required the intervention of specialised craftsmen, but also often included the simplest foundations that support the walls.

The lias stone walls of the church, almost without decorations, are divided by a grand order of Doric pilasters, supporting, around the entire nave, the royal trough.

The painting of the nave ceiling

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Painting the ceiling of the nave of the Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

The painting on the ceiling of the nave is a vast picture traditionally accepted as the work of José Joaquim da Rocha.

It belongs to the category called “perspective painting” or illusionism, because it seeks to deceive the viewer’s eyes with false architecture and illusory space.

The subject of the painting is the glorification of the Blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, who appears crowned with stars, on top of her particular symbol – the new moon. At her feet are four women festively dressed to honour her.

The two on the left are supposed to represent America and Europe. On the right, Asia and Africa complete the group of the four parts of the world. Above the Virgin, the Holy Trinity is depicted, with the Agnus Dei adored by St John the Evangelist and the Holy Precursor.

The carved and gilded wooden high altar of the Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

Side elevators

Side altars of the da Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

The floor plan of the church’s nave is wide and long (28.50 metres by 19.80 metres), ending at the ends of the main axis with a three-sided polygonal area.

Between these walls and four doors, which communicate with the aisles, there are three side altars on each side, installed in square chapels of considerable depth.

The openings of the chapels and doorways form a chain of twelve equal arches in the lower part of the nave, dominated by the rhythm of the immense arch of the chancel, rising very high to connect with the arches of the tribunes on the upper floor.

Interior da Basílica Santuário Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

First tomb of Sister Dulce

Soon after her death, Sister Dulce was buried in the Church of Conceição da Praia in Salvador. In 2000, with the beginning of the process of Beatification of the nun, her remains were then transferred to the Chapel of the Santo Antonio Convent, in Largo de Roma.

A decade later, on 9 June 2010, the nun’s remains were transferred to the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God – today also known as the Sanctuary of Blessed Dulce of the Poor, located next to the headquarters of the Social Works Sister Dulce (OSID).

Pope Francis has promulgated the decree recognising the second miracle attributed to the intercession of Sister Dulce, thus completing the last stage of the process of Canonisation of the Bahian Blessed.

The nun, known as the Good Angel of Bahia, will become the first saint born in Brazil and her canonisation will be the third fastest in history (27 years after her death), behind only the sanctification of Pope John Paul II (9 years after his death) and Mother Teresa of Calcutta (19 years after her death).

History of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach in Salvador

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