Monday, 16 December 2013

Azores, Ponta Delgada - The Church of São José -The 9th of December 2013

I landed at Ponta Delgada Airport very early in the morning and having had to wait for another ten hours before boarding a flight to Santa Maria I decided to walk into the city, not having realised that the sky was overclouded and if it were to start raining I wouldn't have anywhere to shelter myself under.

That's exactly what happened as ten minutes into my walking it started pouring down with rain and the umbrella on its own wasn't enough to protect me. I was totally wet the moment I walked into the Church of São José thirty minutes later.

I was determined not to let the incident affect my whole day and despite being uncomfortable and having to withstand the situation until late in the evening I started photographing what mostly attracted me as far as religious Art is concerned.

I couldn't help looking at and soon after walking into a side chapel located on the right, which was covered in eighteenth century glazed tiles. Preceded by a vaulted yard it almost inevitably caught anyone's attention. Some of the lower corner tiles depicted angels holding framed torturing utensils. 

The main altar was outstandingly beautiful and worth looking at but so were the ones on both sides of the three nave church, said to have been constructed in 1709 on a site formerly occupied by a sixteenth century temple. It used to pertain to a Convent of Franciscans having then been named Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição.

The ceilings were hand painted and despite the fact that the church was not illuminated and looked rather sombre making it difficult to work out some of the details I had the feeling that those had been meticulously painted.

Some sculpted religious figures as well as religious representations were also worth being looked at because of the uniqueness of the facial expressions and the overall approach to the various themes.

I soon realised to which extent I had been fortunate to have wandered about on my own because not only had the church door been just opened to let someone in (the person in charge of the church sacristy) but photos were also not allowed, I was told.

As I was "escorted" to the outside stairs leading to the street I was discreetly told to look at a small chapel on the left and allowed by the person, who had previously informed me that photos were forbidden, to take one last photograph.

(To be continued)

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