Recife’s Oldest Church

RECIFEIgrejadoCorpoSanto1880“The oldest church in Recife and the nucleus of the city was, sadly, demolished in the name of progress.

The Church of the Holy Body (Igreja do Corpo Santo) was built where the hermit Saint Friar Pedro Gonçalves or São Telmo lived, the protector of fishermen and seamen. Around the area, near where Marco Zero resides today, there were several houses and warehouses being built for those that worked and lived on the sea, and for which the façade of the church was faced.

With the Dutch invasion in 1630, the church was transformed into a Calvanist temple, even serving as a cemetary for important figures of Dutch Brazil such as the brother of the count Maurício de Nassau, João Ernesto de Nassau and the admiral Lichthart. According to the architect José Luiz Mota Menezes, the Dutch added a bell tower to the building in accordance with the Dutch architectural style of the era.

45099-970x600-1With the Dutch having been expulsed from the city in 1654, the Procession of Passos started to occur there, according to the promise made by the Luzo-Brazilians and kept until today, on Thursday and Friday, in the two weeks leading up to Easter. At that time the Venerable Brotherhood of the Lord, the God, Jesus the Holy Body was created. The procession leaves the Church of the Holy Body for the church of the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Olinda.

Igreja+do+Corpo+Santo+-+localizaçãoIn the 18th century the church was expanded, becoming an imposing building.

On March 6th, 1913, the last religious events of the Matrix of the Holy Body took place, having had a mass with communion and subsequent transfer of the Blessed Sacrament for the Church of the Mother of God. In October 1913, the church started to be demolished, with the process being concluded in the following year, so that the Marques de Olinda Avenue could be build and the Recife port, expanded. – Source (PT)

cm_recifeolinda_22(Dantas Barreto Avenue)

“Little by little it disappeared from one’s eyes, not a neighborhood but a scene of millions of creatures in their present and their past. […] modest families of cheap housing in the upper floors of homes, grocery stores and small shops, kiosks and shacks, “girls” of easy beds and low prices, rooted parish residents who were devotees of the Senhor dos Passos or Conceição do Arco, everything, all of it was coming apart while the pickaxes struck and the ceilings fell down. […] and the Corpo Santo also came undone […] Few would speak still of this burg where Recife was born, such skewed streets and alleys […] everything on the ground. Never would one see something so crazy.”  – Mário Sette (Source, PT)

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