São Roque Church


The São Roque Church (Saint Roch Church – patron saint of those sick with the plague) is located at Largo Trindade Coelho. The Jesuits built the church in 1574. The architect they commissioned for the building was the Italian Filippo Terzi. The ground plan of the church is rectangular and there is one nave and eight side chapels. The architectural model is called the church salon and was a plan intended to help preaching. The façade of the church is quite plain and does not indicate the treasures the church contains. The ceiling of the nave has paintings of scenes about the Apocalypse. On the right side there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Roque, and it is decorated with beautiful ceramic tile.

A chapel on the left is called the world’s most expensive chapel and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It is an Italian Rococo masterpiece that was built in Rome in 1742 by Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli. It was commissioned by King Joao V. About 130 artists worked on the chapel in Rome. The columns have amethyst or lapis lazuli with gilt fillets, alabaster pilasters, angels in ivory and Carrera marble, colored mosaics, and friezes and capitols worked in gold, silver and bronze. Ornamental stones used were lapis lazuli, agate, antique green, alabaster, Carrara marble, amethyst, purple porphyry, green porphyry and Persian gold-yellow. When it was finished, the Pope blessed the chapel and then the chapel was taken apart and place on three ships that took the parts to Lisbon, where it was reassembled in the church.

The church has a very interesting museum also, open only in the afternoons. The church and museum are now owned by the Casa da Misericordia.