Beautiful catholic churches and monasteries to visit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city’s religious tapestry unfolds within its historical Catholic churches and monasteries, each bearing witness to a rich and diverse spiritual heritage.

As one navigates through the bustling streets, the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro emerges as a testament to centuries of faith. The imposing Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, a modern marvel, stands in stark contrast, reflecting the city’s evolving religious landscape.

The sacred ambiance of The Candelária Church and the contemplative atmosphere of The São Bento Monastery beckon visitors to explore the nuances of Catholicism in this vibrant metropolis. From the revered Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Apresentação to the serene Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento da Antiga Sé, each site tells a unique story of devotion.

This article embarks on a journey to uncover the spiritual narratives, architectural wonders, and cultural significance encapsulated by these sacred landmarks, including Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Desterro and Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lampadosa.

Rio de Janeiro has more historical places to visit, besides churches, like history and art museums, about which I wrote in other articles.

The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, stands as a venerable testament to the city’s rich history.

Serving as the cathedral from around 1808 to 1976, this Carmelite church transitioned seamlessly into roles as the Royal and Imperial Chapel for both Portuguese and Brazilian royalty. Nestled in Praça XV square, downtown Rio, it remains one of the city’s most crucial historical edifices.

The Carmelite Order’s arrival in 1590 marked the inception of their settlement, evolving from a small chapel near Guanabara Bay to the grand Carmelite Church. The present structure, initiated around 1761 under Portuguese architect Manuel Alves Setúbal, was consecrated in 1770, showcasing Rococo woodwork by master Inácio Ferreira Pinto.

Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro
Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro at sunset – art with vintage look

In 1808, the church transformed into the Royal Chapel and later the Imperial Chapel during Brazil’s independence in 1822. The façade’s completion by Pedro Alexandre Cavroé in Neoclassical style and pivotal events like Emperor Pedro I’s coronation added to its significance.

With the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, it continued as the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, symbolizing the city’s ecclesiastical prominence until 1960.

Remodeling in the early 20th century reshaped the façades, and in 1976, the completion of the modern Rio de Janeiro Cathedral led to its designation as the Old Cathedral.

Though no longer the archdiocesan seat, it remains a historical and cultural treasure – a proto-cathedral that gracefully preserves the architectural and musical legacy of Rio de Janeiro.

The Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian – neo impressionist style painting
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian – neo impressionist style painting

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, stands as the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro.

Dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio, this modern marvel was designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca in a style inspired by Mayan architecture. Constructed between 1964 and 1979, it replaced its predecessors, including the notable Old Cathedral, dating back to the 18th century.

The cathedral’s distinctive conical structure, rising 75 meters, with a diameter of 106 meters, resembles a pyramid, reflecting Fonseca’s fascination with Mayan pyramids.

The interior, designed by Paulo Lachen Maier, spans 8,200 square meters, accommodating up to 20,000 worshippers. The central altar dominates the circular space, surrounded by concentric rows of pews.

 Illuminated by towering stained glass windows, representing the universal church’s essential attributes, the cathedral’s interior is adorned with details like bronze Stations of the Cross and statues of Saint Sebastian and Nossa Senhora da Nazaré.

Adjacent to the cathedral, a freestanding bell tower graces the surroundings, while statues of Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and “Homeless Jesus” contribute to the sacred ambiance.

The cathedral’s underground houses community spaces, a Museum of Sacred Art, and the Curia’s archive, enriching its role as a spiritual and cultural haven in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.

The Candelária Church

Candelária Church (Igreja da Candelária) – pen and watercolor
Candelária Church (Igreja da Candelária) – pen and watercolor

The Candelária Church, a significant Roman Catholic landmark in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, bears a rich history and distinctive architectural fusion. Constructed from 1775 to the late 19th century, it showcases a blend of Portuguese colonial Baroque on its façade and later incorporates Neoclassical and Neo-Renaissance elements inside.

The church’s roots trace back to a near-sinking ship named Candelária in the early 17th century. In gratitude, a Portuguese couple sponsored a chapel, giving rise to the Chapel of Our Lady of Candelária around 1609.

By the late 18th century, the need for a larger structure led to the involvement of military engineer Francisco João Roscio. The inauguration in 1811, attended by King John VI, marked the completion of the Baroque façade.

Enslaved individuals were baptized here, including Rosa Egipcíaca, the first Black woman to write a Brazilian book. The church’s dome, completed in 1877, became Rio’s tallest structure. Its interior underwent Neo-Renaissance redesign post-1878, featuring Italian marble, sculptural reliefs, and paintings by João Zeferino da Costa.

Architecturally, the Candelária Church, inspired by Portuguese counterparts, displays Baroque and neoclassical influences. The façade’s dark granite contrasts with whitewashed segments—a colonial church characteristic.

The church’s historical significance extends to events like the Diretas Já campaign and the tragic Candelária massacre in 1993. It remains a cultural and architectural icon, reflecting Brazil’s diverse heritage.

The São Bento Monastery

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The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, commonly known as the Mosteiro de São Bento, stands proudly atop the Morro de São Bento in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Founded by Benedictine monks in 1590, this Benedictine abbey and its Mannerist-style church are exemplars of Portuguese colonial architecture.

The abbey, still operational, encompasses the St. Benedict College (Colégio de São Bento) and the St. Benedict Seminary (Faculdade de São Bento), contributing significantly to Brazil’s educational and religious landscape.

The history of the abbey dates back to the donation of land in 1590 by Manoel de Brito, Diogo de Brito de Lacerda, and Benedictine monks from Bahia. Financial resources for construction were generated through sugarcane production on the monks’ extensive properties, worked by African slaves.

The abbey, initially named Mosteiro de São Bento de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, evolved into Mosteiro de Nossa Senhora de Montserrat in 1602.

Portuguese military engineer Francisco Frias de Mesquita, in 1617, designed the architectural plans for the building, which underwent alterations by Friar Bernardo de São Bento Correia de Souza during construction.

The church, adorned in gold leaf gilding from the Baroque and Rococo periods, features masterpieces by sculptors like Friar Domingos da Conceição and Inácio Ferreira Pinto. The abbey’s interior boasts seven side chapels dedicated to Catholic lay brotherhoods, and guided tours unravel the rich artistic and architectural tapestry within.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Apresentação

Nossa Senhora da Apresentação Church, situated in Praça Nossa Senhora da Apresentação, stands out for its primitive Baroque style, making it a distinctive landmark. Its history is intricately tied to the foundation of the Irajá neighborhood in the North Zone, tracing back to 1613 when Gaspar da Costa erected the Baroque Chapel of Irajá, financed by the local community.

On December 30, 1644, Gaspar’s son established the Parish of Nossa Senhora da Apresentação de Irajá, serving as its first vicar. Eventually, this parish evolved into the Mother Church of the neighborhood, officially recognized by D. João IV’s decree on February 10, 1647. Notably, it is the oldest church in the city, with the year 1613 engraved on the granite portal.

The church holds historical treasures, including the main altar, the tabernacle, and the baptismal font, as well as the wooden image of Nossa Senhora da Apresentação. Beneath the altar, some benefactors, like Honório Gurgel, are interred.

The current bells, inaugurated in 1989, are a reconstruction of the originals. With a north-south orientation, the church’s facade boasts a Neo-Gothic style, inspired by the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Geneva. Inside, the single nave features painted panels, Latin inscriptions, and depictions of the Stations of the Cross, creating a spiritual and visually captivating space.

The church’s rich history is complemented by its adjoining museum, showcasing original wooden altars and religious artifacts. Beyond its religious significance, the church remains a cultural and architectural gem, contributing to the unique heritage of Irajá.

Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento da Antiga Sé

The Church of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Old See (Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento da Antiga Sé) is a historically and artistically significant Catholic temple in Rio de Janeiro, protected by IPHAN since 1938.

Dating back to the 16th century, it originated with the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Sacrament alongside the city’s first Matriz on Morro do Castelo, later elevated to the status of the See in 1680. In 1816, architect João da Silva Muniz was commissioned to design the brotherhood’s own temple, and by 1820, the choir was ready for worship. Despite being incomplete, the church became the Matriz when the Most Holy Sacrament parish was established in 1826.

While constructed during the Neoclassical period, the church retains strong Baroque-Rococo traits, deeply rooted in Brazil’s architectural tradition. Its monumental facade, a blend of Neoclassical and Baroque-Rococo elements, features a central body with two side towers, separated by pilasters.

The interior, well-preserved and harmonious, reflects the style of late 18th-century churches, adorned with rich rococo woodwork by Antônio de Pádua e Castro. The neoclassical influence is evident in the Corinthian columns, while the main altarpiece stands out with its unique forward-projecting baldachin.

This altarpiece showcases a sculptural group of the Last Supper, flanked by allegorical and biblical figures. Noteworthy is the baptismal font, the oldest in Rio de Janeiro, housed in its baptistery. The Church of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Old See stands as a testament to the enduring architectural and religious heritage of Rio de Janeiro.

The Church of São Francisco da Prainha

The Church of São Francisco da Prainha, located in the Saúde neighborhood in the Central Zone of Rio de Janeiro, is a Jesuit Baroque-style church situated near Largo de São Francisco da Prainha and at the foot of Morro da Conceição.

Church of São Francisco da Prainha
Church of São Francisco da Prainha

Built in 1696, the church underwent significant restoration work and was reopened on July 7, 2015, as part of the Porto Maravilha urban revitalization project for the Port Zone of Rio de Janeiro. Designated as an artistic monument by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN), the church is named in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Commissioned by Father Francisco da Motta in 1696, the church was later bequeathed to the Third Order of St. Francis of Penance in 1704. During the French Invasion of Rio de Janeiro in 1711, the church suffered damage, leading to its reconstruction in the Baroque style, completed in 1740.

In 1910, Gothic elements were introduced during a renovation, and in 2004, due to conservation issues, the church was temporarily closed. Extensive restoration efforts, initiated in 2013, led to the church’s reopening on July 7, 2015, after almost 12 years of closure, with a solemn Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Dom Orani João Tempesta, and attended by then-Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Capela de Nossa Senhora de Montserrat

The Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat, also known as the Church of Our Lady of Montserrat, is a historic chapel situated in the Vargem Pequena neighborhood in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro, standing at an elevation of 130 meters.

Recognized as a protected heritage site by the Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute, it has earned the nickname “Jewel of the Empire” for its remarkable beauty.

Founded in 1732 on lands owned by Benedictine monks in what is now Vargem Grande, bordering Vargem Pequena, the chapel has a rich history. Following a storm that toppled the Church of Our Lady of Pilar in Vargem Grande, which housed the original image of Our Lady of Montserrat, the chapel was reconstructed in Vargem Pequena with a new name in homage to the saint.

The original wooden image of Our Lady of Montserrat was moved to the São Bento Monastery in Rio de Janeiro after concerns were raised about the preservation of the abandoned church in Vargem Grande.

The chapel, perched atop the landscape at a significant elevation, not only serves as a testament to historical continuity but also stands as a symbol of architectural and religious significance in Rio de Janeiro.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Penha

The Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady of Penha, commonly known as the Church of Penha, stands as a revered Catholic sanctuary situated in the Penha neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Perched atop a rock, it is renowned for its main staircase comprising 382 steps, where numerous devout believers fulfill vows by ascending on foot or knees.

The Basilica, equipped with three funiculars for accessibility, hosts annual festivities in October, featuring hourly masses, religious concerts, luminous processions, open-air masses, folkloric performances, and a lively celebration on the ascent with traditional food stalls, diverse sweets, and ambient music.

The church’s history dates back over 380 years when, in 1635, Captain Baltazar, owner of the Sesmaria fifth, built a small chapel as a token of gratitude to Our Lady for averting a potentially fatal accident. The chapel evolved into the current church, gaining popularity for its iconic 382-step granite staircase, a testament to fulfilled promises and devotion.

The panoramic view from the church includes sights such as the Christ the Redeemer statue, Corcovado, Guanabara Bay, a part of Teresópolis, and the Galeão International Airport.

Notably, on June 16, 2016, Pope Francis elevated the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Penha to the status of a Minor Basilica.

The church’s architecture reflects an eclectic style, with influences from Neogothic and Neoclassical elements. The final restoration in 1902, led by architect Luiz de Moraes Júnior, contributed to its current appearance, showcasing features like symmetrical towers, balustraded railings, a mix of Neogothic and Neoclassical elements, and ornate interior detailing in light blue and gold.

The Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady of Penha stands as a captivating blend of historical, architectural, and spiritual significance in Rio de Janeiro.

The Church of Our Lady of Glory of the Outeiro

The Church of Our Lady of Glory of the Outeiro (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro), also known as the Imperial Church of Our Lady of Glory or simply the Church of Glory, is located atop Outeiro da Glória in Rio de Janeiro. Renowned as a gem of colonial Brazilian architecture, this iconic monument in the Glória district is visible from Flamengo Park.

Constructed on land donated in 1699, the church’s origins date back to a 17th-century hermitage. The exact commencement of its construction remains uncertain, but it was likely initiated in the 1730s and inaugurated in 1739. The two octagonal structures form the distinctive “8” shape, housing the curved nave and sacristy with stone pillars and a vaulted ceiling.

The lower nave is adorned with blue-and-white Lisbon azulejos panels, depicting biblical scenes, and the sacristy features tiles portraying secular themes. Three rococo altars from the late 18th to early 19th century grace the interior.

Externally, the church presents a characteristic profile with two octagonal bodies leading to a domed tower, including a galilee entrance with a portal showcasing a medallion of the Virgin and Child, sculpted from Lisbon limestone in the 18th century.

The Imperial Family of Portugal, upon arriving in Rio in 1808, developed a special affinity for the Church of Glory. Princess Maria da Glória, later Queen Maria II of Portugal, was baptized here in 1819. In 1839, Dom Pedro II conferred the title “imperial” upon the brotherhood, now known as the “Imperial Brotherhood of Our Lady of Glory of the Outeiro.”

The church, including an organ installed in 1949 by Guilherme Berner, is a protected national heritage site, recently restored. With whitewashed walls framed by granite stones, it stands as an early example of Brazilian colonial architecture.

Capela Imperial Nossa Senhora da Conceição

The Imperial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception is situated on Praia da Bica in the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Jardim Guanabara, representing one of the oldest constructions dating back to its initiation in 1622 as part of a local farm.

In 1786, a turning point occurred when the chapel was donated to the Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. A transformative renovation in 1816 expanded its structure, giving it the shape it retains today.

Despite facing thefts that robbed it of its original images, the chapel perseveres with plaster figures as the only remnants. Hints suggest the altar might have been transported from Germany by ship or assembled locally using German raw materials.

A neighborhood landmark, the chapel stands as a testament to tradition and history, hosting daily ecclesiastical activities. In the midst of modern times, it continues to serve as a spiritual hub, carrying forward its legacy as a cultural and architectural gem in Jardim Guanabara.

Convento de Santo Antônio

The Convent of Saint Anthony is a Catholic convent in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, atop Morro de Santo Antônio, forming a colonial complex with the nearby Church of the Third Order of St. Francis of Penance.

Its history dates back to 1592 when the first Franciscan friars arrived in Rio de Janeiro, settling near Santa Luzia Beach and later constructing a hermitage atop Morro de Santo Antônio. Construction of the convent began in 1608, and by 1620, the ensemble was completed. Between 1748 and 1780, the convent expanded, gaining a second floor.

Facing challenges in a marshy area, the friars drained the nearby Lagoa de Santo Antônio from 1679, leading to the creation of Rua Uruguaiana. The church facade expanded between 1697 and 1701 and was later replaced with baroque portals in the 18th century.

The neocolonial façade introduced in the 1920s was recently undone. The church’s interior, rectangular with a single nave, features late Baroque gilded woodwork from 1716 to 1719.

The convent’s extensive facade along Largo da Carioca showcases nearly square windows, emphasizing its antiquity. The 18th-century sacristy, considered Rio de Janeiro’s most beautiful, features carvings, Portuguese tiles, and a wooden cabinet crafted by Manuel Alves Setúbal in 1745. The catacombs house the remains of various individuals, including members of the Brazilian Imperial Family.

Mosteiro de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos / Irmãs Clarissas

Mosteiro de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos / Irmãs Clarissas is located at Rua do Jequitibá, 41, Gávea in Rio de Janeiro. The Clarisses were the first nuns in Brazil, arriving in Bahia in 1677. They established the Imperial Convent of Santa do Desterro, which closed in 1915 due to persecution and government restrictions.

In 1928, the Mosteiro Nossa Senhora dos Anjos da Porciúncula was established in Rio de Janeiro. Eight sisters from Germany, with Franciscan support, revitalized the Order of Santa Clara in Brazil. Despite challenges, the monastery’s chapel was consecrated in 1932.

In 1964, Cardinal Dom Sebastião Leme definitively closed the monastery to the public. Expansions and improvements occurred over the years, with support from the Archdiocese of Köln, Germany, for its Golden Jubilee in 1980.

The monastery played a crucial role in founding other Clarissan monasteries across Brazil. In 1987, it assumed responsibility for the Monastery of Santa Clara in Anápolis.

Despite challenges, the Mosteiro Nossa Senhora dos Anjos is a testament to resilience and faith, embodying the spirit of Saint Clare. Pope John Paul II’s words encouraged the Clarisses to continue their hidden yet profound mission, underscoring their importance to the Church’s life and the need to rediscover their unique vocation.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito

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The Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos and São Benedito, a colonial-style Catholic temple in Rio de Janeiro, stands at 77 Uruguaiana Street. Its second floor houses the Museum of the Negro, exhibiting artifacts reflecting the presence of African slaves in the city.

Founded in 1640, the “Irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos” sheltered black and mixed-race individuals in Rio de Janeiro. Initially located at the “Igreja Jesuítica de São Sebastião” on Castelo Hill, they relocated to a new church on Vala Street (now Uruguaiana) between 1701 and 1737. The current chancel is the result of a reconstruction around 1772.

In 1737, the episcopal seat, along with the Brotherhood of the Santíssimo, settled in the church, despite protests from the brotherhood. In 1808, with the arrival of Dom João VI, it lost its cathedral status to the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo.

From 1812 to 1825, the church served as the headquarters for the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro. In the 19th century, the church underwent significant renovation, including internal gilded carving by Antônio José Monteiro around 1861 and the reconstruction of the façade.

Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1967 left the church almost devoid of interior decoration. The Museum of the Negro on the second floor, containing crucial documents related to the brotherhood’s history, was also lost. Architects Lúcio Costa and Sérgio Porto reconstructed the interior, emphasizing the importance of gilded carving in Brazilian and Portuguese Baroque churches.

The Museum of the Negro, destroyed in the 1967 fire, was reopened to the public on May 13, 2013, after restoration.

Igreja da Sagrada Família

The Church of the Holy Family is situated in the Ribeira neighborhood, in the northern zone of Rio de Janeiro, at the end of Morro do Ouro Street atop Morro do Ouro. It stands as the fourth church constructed on Ilha do Governador.

Opening for public worship on August 27, 1913, with its inauguration celebration held on September 7 of the same year, the church’s construction received authorization from Cardinal Arcoverde, the then-archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, on March 22, 1911. The chapel’s cornerstone was laid on August 17, 1911.

Named in reference to the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as depicted in the Bible—the church aligns with the biblical portrayal. The authorization for its construction marked a significant ecclesiastical event in Rio de Janeiro’s history.

The church holds historical and cultural significance in the local community.  The nomenclature draws a parallel with the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain, designed by the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The Church of the Holy Family remains a testament to architectural and religious heritage on Ilha do Governador.

The Church of Our Lady of Lapa of the Merchants

The Church of Our Lady of Lapa of the Merchants (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores), at 35 Ouvidor Street in Rio de Janeiro, holds a rich history dating back to 1743.

Originating from two small oratories, it became a center for devotion to Nossa Senhora da Lapa from Portugal. In 1747, merchants formed a brotherhood, initiating the construction, initially named “Church of the Mascates” and later “Merchants.”

Consecrated between 1750 and 1755, the elliptical temple underwent extensive late 19th-century renovations under Baron da Lagoa’s patronage. A notable find during these enhancements was a intricately carved medallion in Portuguese lioz stone depicting Mary’s coronation, displayed on the church facade.

Tested during the Second Brazilian Naval Revolt in 1893, the church survived a shot from the Battleship Aquidabã, preserving the life-sized statue of Nossa Senhora da Fé.

Closed in 2020, the church saw revival in 2023 under the Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, reopening in June. The transformation extended to the clock tower, reinaugurated in August 2023 with a new mechanism from Italy.

A national heritage site since 1937, the church boasts an elliptical layout, a spacious Atrium of Faith housing a cannonball, and features like balconies, tribunes, and a meeting hall. Reflecting late Rococo style, the interior showcases intricate woodwork, including a crafted altarpiece by Antônio de Pádua e Castro.

Distinctive features include a stained glass window symbolizing the Brotherhood of Merchants, a hanging lantern, and a twelve-bell carillon. Illuminated niches with saintly sculptures, a scenic lanternim, and a lit dome and bell tower add allure, especially at night.

With a seating capacity of 125, the Church of Our Lady of Lapa of the Merchants stands revitalized as a testament to history, welcoming visitors and worshippers alike.

Igreja de Santa Luzia

The Church of Santa Luzia is situated in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. Its history carries two versions, one suggesting that the navigator Fernão de Magalhães erected a small chapel in 1519, depositing an image of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. Another attributes its origin to Franciscan friars who built a chapel upon their arrival in 1592, later expanded in 1752.

Nestled beneath the Morro do Castelo, the church played a role in the transfer of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1817. D. João VI ordered the opening of Rua Santa Luzia for easy access, fulfilling a vow for his grandson’s health. In the 1920s, the demolition of Morro do Castelo transformed the landscape, creating an esplanade with materials that redirected the sea.

The church’s facade, adorned with two baroque towers, is a distinctive feature. Inside, the highlight is the baroque-style main chapel with its impressive gilded altars. Notably, the church once had a miraculous water source at the base of the now-vanished hill, commemorated by a fountain in the sacristy today.

With its rich history and architectural allure, the Church of Santa Luzia remains a cultural and spiritual landmark in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.

Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo

The Church of the Venerable and Archiepiscopal Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmo, commonly known as the Church of the Third Order of Carmo, is located in Praça XV, at the heart of downtown Rio de Janeiro, adjacent to the Church of Our Lady of Carmo da Antiga Sé.

Originating in the 17th century, the Third Order of Carmo initially occupied a chapel near the Carmelite Convent. The decision to build a new church was made in 1752, with the project credited to the Portuguese Manuel Alves Setúbal. Construction unfolded from 1755 to 1770, leaving the towers unfinished until 1850 when architect Manuel Joaquim de Melo Corte Real completed them.

The church’s facade is a masterpiece, uniquely covered entirely in stone, reflecting the Pombaline architecture of the time. The portals, crafted from Portuguese lioz stone in 1761, are considered the finest of their kind in Rio.

Inside, the church boasts a single nave with side corridors, chapels, and a rectangular chancel. The rococo-style golden woodwork, initiated in 1768 by Luiz da Fonseca Rosa and later enriched by Mestre Valentim, imparts significant value.

The Novitiate Chapel, a rococo masterpiece by Mestre Valentim, showcases his talent between 1772 and 1773. Throughout the 19th century, sculptor Antônio de Pádua e Castro added unified woodwork to the nave. The Church of the Third Order of Carmo stands as a testament to artistry and religious devotion in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Desterro

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Desterro (The Church of Our Lady of Exile), built in the late 18th century in Campo Grande, western Rio de Janeiro, is a prominent example of Brazilian religious architecture.

Initiated by Father Francisco da Silveira Dias, the original chapel arose in 1673 on land donated by the Barreto family. In the 18th century, the present church, exhibiting Brazilian colonial baroque style, was constructed on the same site, marking the founding of the parish on January 12, 1755. Over the centuries, it underwent additions and modifications, notably after a serious fire in the early 20th century.

In 1932, Cardinal Leme entrusted the spiritual guidance to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Spanish priests like Recaredo Ventosa and Nicolau Guardião Miguel de Leon were among the first to serve. From 2000 onward, the church underwent interventions, including roof restoration, external painting, a new garden, and sodium vapor lighting, highlighting its grandeur at night.

In 2015, the church celebrated the inauguration of the Museum of Sacred and Popular Art and the Vocational Room, adding cultural significance to this historic and spiritual landmark.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lampadosa

The Church of Our Lady of Lampadosa, situated on Avenida Passos in downtown Rio de Janeiro, near the current Tiradentes Square, holds a significant historical connection. Positioned close to the gallows where Tiradentes faced capital punishment, the Brazilian martyr offered his final prayers before his hanging.

The image of Our Lady of Lampadosa is represented as a young mother holding a heart in her slightly elevated right hand symbolizing love, while supporting her son Jesus with her left arm. In Jesus’ right hand is a dove, representing the Holy Spirit.

The devotion to Our Lady of Lampadosa traces back to a supposed appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Italian enslaved by the Turks on the island of Lampedusa in the late 16th century. This devotion spread among Rio de Janeiro’s enslaved population. Before 1740, a brotherhood was established by devoted slaves, headquartered at the Church of Rosary and Saint Benedict.

The temple’s origins date back to 1748, on land donated to the Black Brotherhood of Alampadosa or Lampadosa. Construction of the temple, housing the revered image, began in the late 1740s.

Discrepancies exist regarding the dedication date, with some sources suggesting 1742. In 1930, the original structure was demolished, and a new neocolonial-style building, designed by architects Paulo Candiota and Eduardo de Sá, was inaugurated in 1934.

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