Monastery of São Vicente de Fora Pantheon of Braganzas

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora has a unique story that deserves to be told. It is the greatest work of the period when Portugal was under the rule of Spain, between 1580 and 1640. What were the reasons that led the monarch Filipe II of Spain, I of Portugal, to build a monumental church in this place? Create an environment conducive to the new political cycle of your governance? Do you forget the place where D. Afonso Henriques had built a monastery in thanks for the conquest of Lisbon in 1147? It is this symbolism that led D. João IV, the first King after the Restoration of Independence, to want to be buried here, in the Pantheon of Braganças.

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Aerial view Monastery of São Vicente de Fora; Pantheon of Braganzas
Fig 1. Aerial view, São Vicente de Fora Monastery; Source-SIPA

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

When he besieged Lisbon in 1147, D. Afonso Henriques vowed to build two monasteries, should he succeed in this battle. The two monasteries were to be built next to cemeteries intended to bury the combatants. One of the churches was built next to the Teutonic cemetery in 1148, under the invocation of São Vicente, the Church of São Vicente de Fora.

Conquest of Lisbon D. Afonso Henriques
Fig 2. Azulejo, Conquest of Lisbon, D. Afonso Henriques

Another Church was built next to the cemetery of the English, where today is the Cathedral of Lisbon.

The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was, from the beginning, inhabited by Augustinian friars. Santo António also belonged to this Order.

Santo António de Lisboa Convent of São Vicente de Fora
Fig 3. Santo António de Lisboa in the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

São Vicente the Patron Saint of Lisbon

It is often thought that the Patron Saint of Lisbon is Santo António, given the festivities associated with this Saint and the devotion that the people of Lisbon dedicate to him. However, the patron saint of Lisbon is São Vicente.

The cult of São Vicente is older than our nationality.

Vicente would have been a deacon in Zaragoza. Following several decrees of the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian, who tried to suppress Christian worship throughout the empire, Vicente was arrested by a Roman governor.

Refusing to reveal the location of the books of worship, he was taken to Valencia, tortured, and died on January 22, 304.

The image of São Vicente, is represented with a barge and two crows.

Statue of São Vicente de Fora
Fig 4. Statue of São Vicente de Fora

According to tradition, when in 1173 D. Afonso Henriques ordered the relics of São Vicente to be brought from the Algarve to a Church outside the walls of Lisbon, two crows veiled the body of the Saint, accompanying the boat during the trip.

And, as the relics were placed in a Church outside Lisbon, he became known as São Vicente de Fora.

The construction of the Church of São Vicente de Fora

Built between 1590 and 1627, by the architect who also created the Escorial in Madrid, its aim was to create a new dynastic paradigm and eliminate the historical footprint started by Afonso Henriques.

Thus, the old Monastery was destroyed, to make way for this new construction. Only the old cistern remained, still functioning and visitable.

The Pantheon of Braganzas

It was D. Fernando de Saxe-Coburg which ordered the transformation of the former refectory of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, in the Pantheon of the Bragança Dynasty. The tombs that were next to the chancel were transferred here.

The Kings of the Bragança Dynasty are buried there, except for D. Pedro IV, King of Portugal and Emperor of Brazil, with the title of D. Pedro I.

D. Pedro IV of Portugal is buried in the Imperial Crypt of Ipiranga Monumentin Brazil and his heart in the chancel of the Church of Our Lady of Lapa, in Port.

Pantheon of the Patriarchs of Lisbon

At the request of King D. João V, the Patriarchate of Lisbon by Pope Clement XI.

Most of the Cardinals-Patriarch of Lisbon are buried here, next to the Pantheon of Braganzas.

Paintings and Tiles

At the main entrance to the Convent, we can appreciate the marble and tiles used in the decoration.

The ceiling painting of the Ordinance, by the Florentine artist Vincenzo Baccarelli, is one of the few that survived the 1755 earthquake.

In tiles, we highlight the image of D. Sebastião, followed by D. João IV and the other monarchs of the Bragança dynasty. The Philippine dynasty and era was strategically forgotten.

Location of São Vicente de Fora Monastery

At the confluence of the Graça and Alfama neighborhoods, with the Mouraria which was where a large part of Moirama was installed, after the taking of Castelo de São Jorge.

General view Monastery; Source-SIPA
Fig 5. General view of the Monastery; Source-SIPA

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