Sao Roque Church

Out Of Death Comes Beauty: Sao Roque Church

The land where the Sao Roque Church stands today was once cut off from the city of Lisbon. It was a barren stretch, used to bury victims of the Plague that ravaged Europe in the 16th century. In 1506, a simple place of worship, a forerunner to this monument was constructed, dedicated to Saint Roch, known as the Holy Protector from the Plague. The church was allowed to found its own order, with the royal family’s blessing.

In 1553, the order known as the Company of Jesus took over and built the church monument that stands outside of Lisbon today. The only requirement the royal family had prior to its construction was that the chapel of Sao Roque remain on the interior. While the exterior was built to satisfy Jesuit preferences, stark and austere, the interior is nothing short of amazing.

The entry area of Sao Roque Church bears homage to the royalty of the time, especially King Joao V, combining marble, gold leaf and tile. As you move from chapel to chapel, the painted panels blend with the rest, each honoring an important figure to the Church, from John the Baptist to Jesus.

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