Hi, folks! I´m not sure if I just missed the information about this building during the research that resulted in my book, O RIO QUE O RIO NÃO VÊ, published in 2012, or maybe if, like so many others, the ornate studied today was not in conditions to take part of the book, but the fact is that the recently restored building on 164 Uruguaiana Street reserves us some pleasant surprises.
Besides the beautiful art nouveau cast-iron baluster (figure 1), the symbol molded at the building´s circular pediment caught our attention (figure 2). What would that be?
The ornate has three straight lines that merge to the center of a circle. As a matter of fact, it is the representation of two well known Instruments of the Passion, also called Arma Christi: the circle alludes to the crown of thorns used by Jesus Christ during the Passion and the lines represent the nails with which his hands and feet were fastened to the cross! There´s more: these symbols lead us to the former owners of the building: the Venerável Ordem Terceira do Senhor Bom Jesus do Calvário da Via Sacra – an eighteenth-century local religious brotherhood.
The present sobrado stands today in the grounds once occupied by the Church of Senhor Bom Jesus do Calvário (Good Lord Jesus of Calvary), built in 1719, and by the brotherhood´s hospital, adjacent to the church and equally torn down… (figure 3)
You can see, dear reader, that there was a time in Brazil when not even the eighteenth-century churches were safe from the devastating hunger of the progress. The church was one of the constructions victimized in the name of the opening of the monumental Presidente Vargas Avenue, along with the churches of São Pedro dos Clérigos, São Domingos e Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
The Brotherhood had to rebuild its temple in another ground, and today the new building of the Church of Senhor Bom Jesus do Calvário is located at 50 Conde de Bonfim Street, in the neighborhood of Tijuca.
But let us get back to our ornate. On the website of the Biblioteca Digital Luso-Brasileira, we have found a document (figure 4), in which one can identify, at three of the four corners of the paper, a very similar symbol to the ornate here studied. But differently from the ornate, the document carries, besides the attributes already listed above, a hammer over the nails, as well. You can check it on figure 5.
The referred document is dated 1921 – after the construction of the building, therefore. If we take for granted that the arms reproduced on the document are right – which means with the addition of the hammer – we ask: what happened to the hammer?
Maybe it was lost during the building´s restoration? Or maybe it fell on the ground and nobody has ever noticed?
Letters to the editor.