The Venerable Third Order of St. Francis of Porto (VOTSFP) owns and manages a very important integrated patrimony, constituted by the Church of the Convent of St. Francis, commonly known as Saint Francis Convent Church, repository of numerous artistic styles, for the Igreja dos Terceiros, of neoclassical character, and by the Saint Francis Museum, composed of a collection of movable assets integrated in the space composed of the House of the Order, the Catacombs and the various exhibition spaces that have been organized.
The Brothers of VTOSFP, whose history began in the 30s of the 17th century, have continually built new structures and buildings necessary for their functions and for the support of the brothers, especially the needieSaint
The commitment of the Brothers to equip their Order with buildings for religious practices, for their administrative needs, for their action to assist those who were sick, to bury all those who wanted it, and finally to give school education, resulted in the construction of a chapel, followed by two churches, dispatch houses, burial places of deceased brothers and a hospice, followed later by a hospital and a school.
The implementation of these structures was conducted by the Order in order to associate the best artists of each era and, through them, to make of their buildings a reference of Porto’s art.
To the buildings of the Order (church, Dispatch House, cemetery, hospital and school) were added, in 1839, a part of the ordinance and the Church of the Convent of Saint Francis, after the extinction of the Religious Orders.
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The Saint Francis Convent Church and its Museum, located in the heart of the historical city of Porto, are protected by the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Porto. The Saint Francis Convent Church was classified as a national monument in 1910 and as world heritage by Unesco in 1996.
The Church was successively enriched, to the point of being considered today one of the richest and most beautiful repositories of gilded woodwork in Portugal. What is most surprising is the baroque richness of cladding and carving from the 17th century to the mid-18th century, demonstrating the exceptional work of the Portuguese carvers.
One of the peculiarities of this Church comes precisely from the singular contrast of the luxuriant ornamentation of the carvings with the austerity of the Gothic structure.
The Saint Francis Convent Church was initially built in Romanesque style. In 1833, at the end of the Siege of the city, a Miguelista firefight caused a fire that destroyed the old cloister, part of the Church and the portal. Nowadays, the only element of the primitive facade that still exists is the rosacea (symbol of Rosa Fortunae).
In the Church, constituted by three naves and five sections, several altarpieces represent the work of different masters carvers of different periods.
To the left of the entrance porch is the tomb chapel of Luís Álvares de Sousa and one of the oldest preserved murals in the country, representing Our Lady of the Rose, attributed to António de Florentim.
To the right of the entrance porch there is a 13th century niche that shows the Franciscan arms, desplaying with the sculpture of Saint Francis in polychrome granite. From here we can see the diversity of works that can be observed in the Church.
In the main altarpiece, the Tree of Jesse is the most exuberant example of the theme in the country.
The work, adapted from an already existing piece, was made by Filipe da Silva and António Gomes in the eighteenth century and presents twelve images of the kings of Judah, in a tree that grows from the lying body of Jesse and culminates in the Virgin and the Child, preceded by Saint Joseph.
In niches on both sides of the Tree there are the figures of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, as well as four Franciscan doctors who wrote about the Immaculate.
In the transept, in addition to the altarpiece of the main chapel, the altarpieces of Saint Benedict, Saint Anthony and Saint Francis can be seen on the left side, while on the right side one can see the altarpieces of Saint Bonnaventura, Our Lady of the Lamps and the Three Wise Men.
In the Church one can also see the altarpiece of Our Lady of Socorro, from 1740, designed by the architect Francisco do Couto e Azevedo and executed by Manuel da Costa and Andrade, artists who were also responsible for the Altarpiece of Our Lady of the Rose.
The altarpieces of the Martyred Saints of Morocco and of the Annunciation of Our Lady, executed by Manuel Pereira da Costa Noronha in 1750, and the Chapel of Our Lady of Solitude, by Francisco Pereira Campanhã, executed in 1765, prove the mastery of the 18th century Portuguese carvers XVIII.
A atual Igreja, herdeira de dois espaços sacros anteriores (a Capela de Santa Isabel, cuja pertença à VOTSF do Porto datará de 25 de novembro de 1638, e a primeira Igreja da Rainha Santa Isabel, cuja construção decorreu entre 1677 e 1690), começou a ser construída no final do Século XVIII e representa o início de uma nova arquitetura classicista religiosa no Porto.
A imposição do classicismo deriva da tendência europeia à época, da atividade arquitetónica promovida pela Junta de Obras Públicas na cidade do Porto, e pela arquitetura neopalladiana que o Porto vê introduzir-se em algumas das suas mais emblemáticas obras, como seja o Hospital de Santo António, a já desaparecida Capela de Nossa Senhora do Ó e a Casa da Feitoria.
No entanto, essa tendência não foi suficiente para eliminar o tardo-barroco e o rococó, razão pela qual é notória a convivência das duas sensibilidades arquitetónicas na Igreja do Convento de São Francisco do Porto.
A sua fachada é constituída por dois andares, o segundo dos quais rematado por um frontão.
A construção da Igreja da VOTSF do Porto iniciou-se em 1792, a partir da reconstrução da capela-mor da primeira Igreja da Rainha de Santa Isabel, e continuou, a partir de 1795, com a construção de um novo corpo, uma nova sacristia e uma nova capela de Santo António.
O primeiro é constituído por dois grandes pedestais onde assentam duplas colunas dóricas romanas, entre as quais foram colocadas duas estátuas, representando a Humildade e a Penitência. O segundo andar do frontispício é formado por colunas jónicas, entre as quais se abrem três amplas janelas, sendo a central de maior vão. Na parte central veem-se as armas da Ordem encimadas pela coroa real. Um parapeito sustenta lateralmente as estátuas da Esperança e da Caridade. No centro está a estátua da Fé, assente num acrotério.
No interior, destaca-se o elevado arco triunfal, cujo remate ostenta uma importante composição armorizada; o coro e o órgão ali colocado; e a primorosa decoração de todo o interior da Igreja.
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The museological route is made up of the Saint Francis Convent Church, which represents the splendor of the Gothic and the Baroque, and the House of the Order, by the architect Nicolau Nasoni, with the Treasury Room, the Sessions Room and the Catacombs.
The Dispatch House is for the quality of its façade and its interior an exemplary highlight of the architecture of the 18th century. It represents a baroque sensibility; whose origin is in the works of renovation of the cathedral that started in 1717 and that was associated to the city and the North of Portugal.
After a fire has destroyed the shelter for poor Brothers and women's assistance that was located in the place, the administration of the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Porto decided to start the construction of a Dispatch House. The building began to be rebuilt in 1747, and the new plant was designed by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect responsible for great monuments of the city, such as the Clérigos Tower or the Freixo Palace.
The Dispatch House has a rectangular floor plan on two floors and is nowadays the Saint Francis Museum.
On the first floor is the Treasure Room, which boasts a permanent exhibition of works related to the history of the Order of Saint Francis and the history of the city.
On the second floor, one can visit the Hall of Sessions, with an octagonal floor ceiling painted in white and inlaid with gilded carving. The walls are decorated by paintings of the Institution's benefactors, a painting depicting the death of Saint Margaret of Cartona and a picture of the Virgin and Child.
One of the most striking elements of the Hall of Sessions is the altarpiece of Christ on the Cross, in gilt carving, attributed to José Teixeira Guimarães.
Still on the second floor, the Dispatch Room reveals a ceiling with two oils of bipartisan coats, with the arms of the Order and of D. José and D. Maria Ana Vitória, by José Martins Tinoco.
Inserted in the set church, the House of the Dispatch and access patio, is located the catacomb cemetery, of singular architecture, and that represents the final phase of a whole process of creation of space to bury the brothers. Between 1749 and 1866, all the benefactors of the Order were buried in this space.
The oldest part of the Catacomb cemetery has a baroque altar and ornate carving in gold. The remaining space is marked by the lateral deposits and the contrast between the white walls and the black tone of the deposits. In the catacombs one can also see the ossuary, where are exposed thousands of bones of brothers and benefactors once buried in the graves.
The content of the texts on this page was obtained, in particular, through consultation and partial reproduction of the work The Convent and the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Porto, by the authors of Natália Marinho Ferreira-Alves and Joaquim Jaime B. Ferreira-Alves, Lúcia Rosas, Manuel Engrácia Antunes, António Mourato