Fachada frontal da Igreja. Foto: Prefeitura do Rio

The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the scene of some of the most important events in the country in the 19th century. Its history began with a small hermitage built on the site, by the Benedictines and dedicated to Our Lady of the O, early in the Portuguese occupation.

The hermitage was donated to the Carmelites when they arrived in Brazil in 1590 and it was transformed into the Chapel of the Order of Carmel.

At the beginning of the 17th century (1619) the friars started building the Carmel Convent next to the chapel. It had two floors and 26 windows and is still standing (one of the few colonial constructions that survived the process of urban reform).

The hermitage eventually collapsed during a ceremony and the present-day Church of Our Lady of Carmel was erected on the site of the ruins in 1761, at almost the same time as its neighbour, the church of the Third Order (following the custom of the time the church of the Third Order monks was built close to the convent church).

Simulação da cidade do Rio em 1870, com a antiga Sé e, à direita, a igreja da Ordem Terceira. Fonte: Portal GEO Rio

In 1808, with the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Court, Dom João VI decided to elevate it to the Royal Chapel because of its strategic location in the most important square of the city. He transferred the See of the city and appropriated the convent house for Queen Dona Maria I and her entourage.

After Independence, the church became the Imperial Chapel until the Proclamation of the Republic when it was remodelled and converted into a Cathedral by Cardinal Arcoverde. It remained as such until the inauguration of the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1976.

Segundo casamento do imperador D. Pedro I, com Amélia de Leuchtenberg, realizado na então Catedral da cidade, em 1829. Wikimedia Commons

The Church of Our Lady of Carmel has witnessed many historic events such as Dom João VI´s ascension to the throne (1818), the coronations of the emperors Dom Pedro I (1822) and Dom Pedro II (1841), as well as weddings and christenings of the imperial family.

In December 1903, the mortal remains of Pedro Álvares Cabral were brought from Portugal and deposited in a double urn of lead and wood in the crypt, alongside the mortal remains of Cardinal Arcoverde. The archaeological site is located next to the crypt.

Detalhe da nave central. Fonte: Patrimônio Histórico ArqRio

The Church was listed as a heritage site in 1941 by IPHAN (National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage) and underwent restoration from 2006 to 2008.


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