Religious heritage, Land of Culture

Capela do Senhor do Bom Despacho

The Senhor do Bom Despacho Chapel is part of the architectonic whole of the monastery of Saint Andrew of Ancede. This chapel was built in the first half of the 18th Century and represents the architectonic style of that period, with an octagonal floor plan and an interior in the distinctively baroque Joanine style with gilded and polychrome woodcarving. From the second half of the 16th Century, the monastery of Saint Andrew of Ancede belonged to the Convent of Saint Dominic in Lisbon, a connection that is heavily present in the sculpture embellishments and pictorial decoration of this chapel.

The theme of the decoration in the chapel is that of the Rosary, clearly expressed in the repetition of the rose decorating all side altarpieces, but especially in the painted canvas on the tribune where Virgin Mary hands the Rosary to Saint Dominic, who used it to convert heretics to Catholicism. The same canvas depicts Saint Dominic handing that same rosary to another Dominican friar. And the background shows a scene of the purgatory in flames with several characters representing different social classes and stretching out their hands for salvation.

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All sculptures of the altarpieces portray the Mysteries of Christ in a three-dimensional and theatrical way, as if it was an actual theatre play. The sculptures are placed like actors in a theatre, framed on stage by painted backgrounds and sculptured curtains. The main figures connected to Christ are always sculptured in gilded woodcarving whilst the remaining ones, the secondary figures, are polychromed.

The octagonal aisle exhibits a set of six altarpieces representing the Joyful Mysteries. They portray the scenes of Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of Christ, Circumcision, Visit of the Three Kings and the Presentation.

The headliner of the nave represents the Marian symbols, such as the tower, the cedar, the palm, the mirror, the sun and the moon and the coat of arms of the Dominicans.

The Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries are depicted in the altarpieces of the main chapel, whose coffers on the ceiling include the symbols of the Passion of Christ.
The part of the altarpiece representing the Sorrowful Mysteries was certainly created at a later stage, as the main altarpiece it forms part of was roughly sawn for this purpose, hence covering the bases of the main columns. The set of the Sorrowful Mysteries are represented in the six panels below the Crucified Christ. These panels depict the Agony of Christ in the olive tree garden, the moment of the Betrayal of Judas, identified by the bag with the 30 coins, the Flagellation, the Ecce Homo, the moment of the Passion of Christ (crying women, Christ with the Cross and Veronica), and finally Christ on the holy sepulchre, represented in a single piece of terracotta of great sculptural beauty.

On the wall to the right of the main chapel we have an altarpiece showing the Resurrection of Christ, though “guarded” by the Roman soldiers and in front the altarpiece on the Ascension of Christ in the presence of the figures of the Apostles Peter, James and John. Then look up at the upper part of the main altarpiece again, with figures representing the Divine Trinity, the Assumption of Our Lady to the skies and her coronation and, finally, to the headliner with a small cartouche symbolising the Pentecosts.

Behind the main altarpiece is a small ambulatory, prepared to hold various sculptures, with only the plight in terracotta remaining. A few years ago, some remains of mural paintings were also identified.

Tip: Click on the pictures to enlarge.

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