History and Architecture of the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco in Salvador

Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco in Salvador
Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco in Salvador

An expressive example of Baroque architecture in Brazil, the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco in Salvador or Church of the Third Order of St Francis, located at Largo do Pelourinho in Salvador, Bahia, had its foundation stone installed on 1 January 1702.

Its exuberant high-relief façade, carved in carved limestone with sandstone cornerstones, bears in its central niche the image of St Francis, carved in marble.

Salvador, in Bahia, has its foundation stone laid on 1 January 1700.

The original baroque interior was replaced by neoclassical altars between 1827 and 1828.

The Portuguese tiles, however, were mostly kept and are distributed throughout the cloister, consistory, aisles and galleries of the church.

They show scenes of Lisbon before the earthquake that destroyed the city in 1755 and the procession of the marriage of Prince Joseph to Maria Ana de Bourbon.

Portuguese tiles have been kept for the most part.

The church also houses important works of sacred art, such as the sculpture of the Dead Lord weeping tears of rubies, by Francisco das Chagas Xavier, as well as a room of the saints in which life-size images of them are exhibited.

The Church of St Francis, built in the 18th century, has its interior entirely covered in gold and rosewood with carvings depicting angels, animals and flowers.

There are numerous Tile Panels, in shades of blue, at the entrance of the temple, in the Altar and in the Sacristy, depicting scenes alluding to St Francis of Assisi – his birth and renunciation of material goods, works painted by Bartolomeu Antunes de Jesus, one of the great masters of tilework in Portugal.

It dates back to 1686, following a project by Father Vicente das Chagas.

The convent was started first and in 1708 the foundation stone of the church was laid, with the building finished in 1723, but its decoration still took longer.

The convent was completed in 1752, but the whole complex was not finalised until 1782, with the laying of the tiles and finishing of the gatehouse

In the 20th century, the buildings underwent restoration interventions on several occasions.

The church’s floor plan is unusual among Franciscan buildings in the north-east of Brazil, as it has three naves, whereas the more usual design has only one nave.

The façade, facing a large square where there is a cross, has a Mannerist influence, with two relatively simple side towers and a more decorated central volume, especially in the pediment.

The façade faces a large square where there is a cross.

See also the details of the façade of the Church, ICONOGRAPHY OF THE FAÇADE OF THE CHURCH OF THE THIRD ORDER OF SAINT FRANCISCO IN SALVADOR, BAHIA

Every surface of the interior – walls, columns, ceiling, chapels – is covered with intricate carvings and gilding, with florets, friezes, arches, volutes and numerous figures of angels and birds scattered at various points, as well as panels in Portuguese tiles with various moralistic scenes and inscriptions.

It is considered one of the most significant expressions of the Baroque in Brazil. The ceiling has paintings by Friar Jerônimo da Graça, realised between 1733 and 1737.

The Sacristy, one of the most beautiful examples of Brazilian Baroque architecture, features rich carving and marble work.

Panels with paintings make the transition between the walls and the ceiling, in a box style.

History of the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco or Church of the Third Order of St Francis

The Convent of Saint Francis and Third Order, in São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos, is considered one of the most important examples of Baroque art in Brazil. A World Heritage Site, its foundation dates back to the beginnings of Portuguese colonisation.
Facade of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Facade of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

The city of Salvador, founded in 1549, was named St. Saviour of the Bay, and a fortress was built to protect its citizens.

A hundred years later, the Third Order of St Francis of the Bay was established, whose friars first lodged in a small chapel before moving ahead with the construction of the monastery in 1587.

Facade of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Facade of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

The church is decorated with a treasure: more than 1,500 square metres of tiles depict the city of Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake.

The city, founded in 1549, was named S. Salvador da Baía and a fortress was built to protect its citizens.
A hundred years later, the Third Order of St Francis of the Bay was established, whose friars first lodged in a small chapel before moving on to build the monastery in 1587.

Altar of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Altar of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
The church is decorated with a treasure: more than 1,500 square metres of tiles show the city of Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake.The façade of the church is built in sandstone, imported from Portugal but carved in Brazil.
Interior of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Interior of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

The Third Order of St Francis was founded in Salvador in 1635, next to the convent of the same name, and its first chapel was completed in 1644.

Consistory Hall of the Third Order
Consistory Hall of the Third Order

In 1686, plans were made to build a larger church, and about fifteen years later, a competition was held to choose the artists who would do the work.

Alentejo marble washroom, in the Dom João V style, of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Alentejo marble washroom, in the Dom João V style, of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

Once the choices had been finalised, work began on the new church in 1702, which would stand out among the others for its façade entirely carved in sandstone, in the so-called ‘plateresque’ style widely used in churches in Hispanic America.

It is a unique example in Brazil, and only the church of Nossa Senhora da Guia, in Paraíba, can be compared to it, albeit more simply.

Interior of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Interior of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

The decoration of the interior of the church was almost entirely modified in the 19th century by the carver José de Cerqueira Torres, with a predominance of the neoclassical style.

Tiles of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Tiles of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

In 1844, under the direction of Joaquim Francisco de Mattos, a chapel called “Casa dos Santos” was built, where several images used in processions were kept.

 

Roof of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador
Roof of the Church of the Third Order of St Francis in Salvador

Below, a painting kept in the premises of the Third Order, shows a ‘family tree’ of the Franciscan Order, beginning with St Francis and his first disciples, and passing through several generations of friars and nuns, until it reaches the feet of Mary. On the column at the base of the tree is one of the first saints of the order: Antonio de Lisboa (or of Padua).

Tourism and Travel Guide to Salvador da Bahia and the North-East

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