A CARMELITE BAS-RELIEF AT PRIMEIRO DE MARÇO STREET

We should not confuse the Church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo da Antiga Sé with the Church of Venerável Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo, almost twinned side by side, with their main entrances facing Primeiro de Março Street. The first one, which has already been the Real Chapel, the Imperial Chapel and the Metropolitan Cathedral until 1977, makes its corner with Sete de Setembro Street. The second one – where the ornament addressed at this post is located – makes its corner with Beco dos Barbeiros and is one of the most beautiful and well preserved Rio buildings of the second half of the eighteenth century.

The Church of Ordem Terceira do Carmo, like it is popularly known, is the only church in town totally coated in a type of carioca stone known as “gnaisse carioca” (carioca gneiss, or gneiss from Rio). It was designed under the Pombaline Style, a reference to the period when the Marquis of Pombal ruled in Portugal.

The cartouche located above the main portal is one of the most remarkable works of religious art in Rio (seen above). Sculpted in lioz stone, it would have been brought from Portugal in 1761. Iconographically, it represents the moment of Our lady of Mount Carmel´s apparition towards Saint Simon Stock when in pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in the Mount Carmel, in current Israel, happened in July 16th, 1251, according to the catholic tradition.

The Virgin here appears surrounded by angels and enveloped with clouds, above which She protects the Christ Child with her left hand. With the right hand She gives the saint a scapular – a mantle with a hole, to be dressed over the cassock -, with the promise that those who dies dressed in it will be saved.

In the scene we can see the staircase of a seeming altar and a censer, besides two other attributes related to the life of the saint: a book and a branch of a lily, alluding to the purity that links the saint with the Virgin.[1]

In Beco dos Barbeiros façade another bas-relief carries a similar message: the saint is not present here, and it is the Christ Child himself that carries the scapular.

Don´t miss it!

 

[1] http://bdtd.biblioteca.ufpb.br/tde_arquivos/7/TDE-2009-09-18T095600Z-65/Publico/parte2.pdf. In Honor, André C. O Verbo mais que perfeito. Uma Análise Alegórica da Cultura Histórica Carmelita na Paraíba Colonial. UFBA.

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