Century XVI / XIX
The Church and Casa da Misericórdia date back to 1579. The current building stems from the remodelling that took place in 1893, with the new church facing south to north. The interior is of Renaissance aesthetic and the high altar has an interesting baroque carving and is topped by a 17th century altarpiece of painted canvas representing Our Lady of Mercy. In 1621, the altar of Our Lady of Pity and the altar of Christ were already in place, the latter in the chapel of the Holy Christ or the Mareantes. This Mannerist chapel, profusely decorated, remained in its original position. The polychrome coffered ceiling represents the prophets. The altar, whose setting is the city of men watched over by angels and two founding prophets, is flanked by altarpieces and features a sculpture of Christ on the Cross, the Good Jesus of Mareantes, having the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist at his feet.
Property of Public Interest.
Winter: Every day, 09h00-17h00.
Summer: Every day, 09h00-19h00
Festivities: Holy Week. Maundy Thursday 15h00-24h00. Good Friday 09h00-24h00. (bookings only)
Our Lady of Mercy of Esposende
The veneration of Our Lady of Mercy or Mater Omnia “mother of men” began in Portugal in 1516 as the protector and saviour of humanity, represented as a queen, whose mantle shelters all social classes. The omophorion mantle is the most emblematic attribute of Our Lady of Mercy.
The God the Almighty, depicted in the shape of pyramid and eye, associated with the knowledge and balance of natural and supernatural powers, is represented on the reredos above the high altar at the Church of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Esposende. The reredos was concealed for many years because, at the beginning of the 20th century, this image was forbidden, as it allegedly represented Freemasonry. This detail, which values and distinguishes this canvas, caused it to be placed back on the high altar in the 1990s. In the centre, Our Lady with open arms covers the members of the religious hierarchy (the pope, bishops, nuns and monks) with the left side of her mantle, and the members of the military hierarchy (king, queen and knights) on her right, secured by angels, one on each side. Two beggars are depicted at the feet of Our Lady, representing the suffering people.
As a curiosity and reason of interest for this architectural ensemble (Church of Misericórdia and Chapel of Mareantes), on the west side of the high altar, the Niche of Pietá (Our Lady of Pity) stands out, an image that dates back to the 16th century (between 1501-1525). The face expresses the pain of the mother with her dead son in her lap, which touches the devotees and all those who contemplate the scene.
In the Chapel of Mareantes, with artworks attributed to the school of Porto, the image of the Christ on the Cross, known as Bom Jesus da Praça or Holy Christ surrounded by the images of Our Lady of Calvary and St. John the Evangelist, standing out in the centre. On the coffered ceiling, the image of the twelve evangelists.