Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The monks of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel founded Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (often referred to as the Church of the Third Order of Carmel). It is located next to another church which belongs to the Carmelite convent (often called the convent church). This is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Carmel which was the city See from 1808 until the inauguration of the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1976.

A Igreja de N. S. do Monte do Carmo atualmente, ao lado da Antiga Sé. Foto: Sanctuaria

When the Third Order was founded in 1648 they would hold mass in the convent church. However, with the growth of the brotherhood, in 1749 the Order received a donation of the land next to the Carmel Church to build its own chapel. It was common at that time for the churches of third orders to be built adjacent to convent churches.

Construction work began after several years of discussions with the Carmelite friars, who were concerned about the deteriorating structure of their own church. It was only when the friars started the rebuild of the convent church that the cornerstone of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was laid in 1755.

The first mass, marking the inauguration of the temple, took place in 1770, but the church was only fully completed in 1855 with the conclusion of its two towers. The structure of the church before its completion can be seen in various illustrations of Largo do Paço from the first half of the 19th century. With an opulent and imposing facade, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel features an entrance portal made of Lioz marble, crowned with a marble medallion with the image of Our Lady of Carmel.

Medalhão de Nossa Senhora do Carmo sobre o portal de entrada da igreja. Foto: Sanctuaria

The façade is made of stonework and is in the Baroque style. The identical towers house three bells with arched openings on all four sides and at the top, each one has a balustrade and domes covered in blue tiles, crowned with small crosses. 

Detalhe da fachada, com as duas torres gêmeas, seu sinos e balaustradas. Foto: ArqRio

The interior of the church is crafted from carved wood, featuring works by Antonio de Padua Castro and Luiz da Fonseca Rosa – the latter being one of the mentors of Mestre Valentim, who also contributed to the interior decoration of the church. The frontal and religious artefacts of the main altar are made of silver. The Novitiate Chapel (next to the main altar) features images of Our Lady of Carmel and Our Lady of Sorrows, as well as a small area for the choir with an organ and paintings with sacred themes. Many pieces in this chapel are the work of Mestre Valentim. Between the former cathedral and the Third Order church, there is a private corridor that allows the friars and monks to go from one chapel to the other.

Nave Central da igreja – Foto: Sanctuaria

One of the architectural jewels of Rio de Janeiro’s Baroque style, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was listed as a heritage site by IPHAN in 1938. However, it has been closed since 2019 due to the deterioration of its structure. 

In February 2023, the Third Order was alerted by IPHAN that the chapel, which contains architectural treasures and sacred art, was at serious risk of fire and structural collapse. Following the warning, the Order’s general secretariat began studying possibilities for the restoration of the church.


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