General Information
Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo   
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  • Name: Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo
  • Typology: Church
  • Classification: Public Interest Building, by Decree 34 452, DG 59 of 20th March 1945
  • Municipality: Lousada
  • Patron Saint´s Day: Our Lady of the Snows - second weekend of September   
  • Worship Hours: Tuesday to Saturday - 7 pm 
  • Visiting Hours: By appointment   
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : +351 255 810 706 / +351 918 116 488 
  • Fax: +351 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail: rotadoromanico@valsousa.pt  
  • Web: www.rotadoromanico.com 
  • Location:
    Lugar da Igreja, Meinedo, Lousada, Porto.
  • How to Get Here:

     

  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 14' 54.789" N / 8° 15' 26.908" W 
History
History
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Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo  The Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo, although its foundation date remains unknown, would have been erected between late 13th century and early 14th century, even though the temple perpetuates decorative schemes and building solutions that follow the Romanesque path.

In spite of this late date, the Church’s prestige is enormous, considering that Meinedo was the head of a Bishopric in the 6th century. Meinedo is identified with the toponym “Magnetum”, in the “Paroquial Suévico” [Suevic Parochial], by A. de Almeida Fernandes, quoted by Marcelo Mendes Pinto, locating here a Paroécia [of the ancient Greek, parish] in 572, whose see would have been later transferred to Portucale, since its Bishop attended the Third Council of Toledo, in 589, and upon this date no reference is made to "Magnetum".

From this period to the 13th century, when the Church is consecrated, as we currently know it, little is known on the development of the site, although archaeological excavations carried out in 1991 revealed a circular apsidal structure belonging to a pre-Romanesque primitive temple.

Historical Figures
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D. Hugo 
D. Hugo (? - 7th September 1136) was the Bishop of Porto between 1113 and 1136, having received from the hands of King D. Afonso Henriques the “Couto” [place with privileges] of the Monastery of Saint Thyrsus of Meinedo, in 1113. He was born French and stood as the archdeacon of the See of Compostela.

Appointed Bishop of Porto by influence of his friend Diogo Gelmires, in 1120, he received  by the hand of Queen Teresa, mother of King D. Afonso Henriques, by donation and Couto, the burgh Portucalense. Three years later, D. Hugo granted the foral charter to its inhabitants, thus triggering the construction of the See to replace the existing chapel.

Legends and Curiosities
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The body of Saint Thyrsus, brought from Constantinople, is the reason for the founding of this Church, as evidenced by the relics, much venerated in the seventeenth century, which remain in the chapel attached to the north façade. Devotional rivalries would have been the basis for the change of this Church´s patron saint.

Our Lady of Meinedo

As evidence that the cult of Our Lady was more significant than that of Saint Thyrsus, Agostinho de Santa Maria reports that, in 1686, when the image of Our Lady of Meinedo was removed from the altarpiece of the chancel for works and with rumours that that same image, due to its size, would be buried or burned, the population - devotee of Saint Mary the Tall - would have required it to stand, temporarily, in one the side altars.

The image of Our Lady of Meinedo in limestone with traces of polychromy - which would have been painted in colours and gold - is one of the few examples of Romanesque sculpture in Portugal, as the devotion is centralised on the relics.

Chronology
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6th century (mid) - Construction of the basilica, head of the Bishopric of Meinedo;

1113 - Reference to the existence of the Monastery of Saint Thyrsus of Meinedo;

13th and 14th centuries - Building of the Church;

17th and 18th centuries - Tiling of the main chapel with blue and white glazed tiles, erection of the modern bell tower and placing of the retables and main retable in gold gilding;

1991 - Restoring the Chapel of Saint Thyrsus by the Comissão da Fábrica da Igreja [Church’s Factory Committee];

20th century (90s) - Beginning of the recovery and restoration works in the Church of Meinedo, carried out by IPPAR - Instituto Português do Património Arquitetónico [Portuguese Institute of the Architectonic Patrimony];

1998 - The Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2007 -  Works for the general conservation of the Church and surrounding area, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2015 - Works for the general conservation of the Church, mostly at the levels of the roofs and external walls, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

Specialities
Architecture
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Saint Mary of Meinedo is a monument of religious architecture, while the Church features a longitudinal plan, a single nave and a rectangular chancel, both with wooden gabled roofing, and displaying an eighteenth-century interior redecoration.

Plan of the Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo

The main portal has no tympanum or columns and opens in pointed arch. Its archivolts are decorated with pearls, a solution which is typical of the rural Gothic. The South lateral portal is undecorated as the north one is blocked.

The chevet is crowned at the top by a cornice sitting on flat modillions, very much like the nave, although the latter features some carved modillions.

Façade of the Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo

The architectural style of this monument is clearly identifiable with the Rural Romanesque. The decorative schemes and constructive solutions follow the Romanesque model, despite having been built later in time.

Slightly to the north, in a place where Roman villa may have existed, one may find traces - walls and some capitals - of what might have been a basilica.

Archeology
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To the north of the Church, in what could have once been a Roman villa, there are remains of walls and elements of a basilica, which might have been the see of the Bishopric of Magnetum, probably from the Swevi period.

In the 90s, during archaeological excavations on the north side of the churchyard, a Gothic image of Saint Anthony, in limestone, with traces of polychrome, was also found.

The construction of a housing unit in the Quinta dos Padrões, more than six decades ago, has brought to light a number of archaeological remains indicating the existence, on that same location, of buildings probably from the late-Roman period. Fragments of pottery, loom weights, tegulae and imbrex, bricks and pipes reveal the importance of the site.

The later emergence, upon the opening of the vineyards, of Visigoth capitals, anthropomorphic sarcophagi, a polygonal vat and several carved stones with medieval decorations, leads one to consider the existence of a temple from a later period.

Later on, archaeologists found traces of common Roman ceramics, Hispanic sigillata and "claras D", Pompeian red ceramics and fragments of a fourth century lucerne in the location where the football field was opened, adjacent to the Quinta dos Padrões, elements that contribute towards the definition of the large area of dispersal of a late-Roman village.

Meinedo would have evolved from a fortified village at the site where the cemetery is today, with a relevant importance in Roman times.

In 1991, archaeological excavations revealed a circular apsidal structure belonging to a primitive pre-Romanesque temple. The extension of the path behind the football field led to the emergence of many ceramic fragments that indicate the high probability of further archaeological remains.

The excavations carried out have uncovered the foundations of part of a housing structure with four incertum opus walls, as well as an estate consisting of common use ceramics, including fragments of dolium, concave plates for cooking, fragments of jars and water-pot wings.

Worth noticing is also the existence of two fragments of terra sigillata, of Hispanic nature, one belonging to the brim of a plate of shape no.4, datable between the last third of the 1st century AD and the beginning of the second century, dating corroborated by the second fragment.

In that same place, fragments of decorated thin grey pottery, polished, a fragment of a cylindrical tube and a green glass cup, which dates back to a time period between Tiberius and Nero, with prevalence in the Flavian period. These findings prove the existence of a Roman village in Meinedo in the mid-first century.

Surroundings
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In the scope of the Study for the Enhancement and Protection of the Monuments of the Route of the Romanesque of the Vale do Sousa, in which the guidelines and framework of the subsequent development of technical projects for implementation and respective works for the enhancement and protection of the surroundings were defined, the conditions considered most relevant for the preservation and requalification of the surroundings were described.

The aim of this Study is to preserve the context in which these are integrated, namely the integration of constraints on legal provisions - such as Special Protection Areas - restricting urban interventions that may endanger the integrity of the surroundings.

Surroundings of the Church of Saint Mary of Meinedo

We also proceeded to the definition of areas and interventions of general nature to take into account in the surroundings, in order to extend the planning to a wider area and allow better circulation of tourists in the region.

Finally, the Study defined the priority interventions to be carried out in the surroundings, to allow the stabilization of the territories and, simultaneously, correct and/or create structures and supporting infrastructures.

The extension of the railway led to a disruption of the landscape surrounding the Church, of rural matrix, with a diffuse urban densification along the main routes and an urban nucleation near the railway station of Meinedo.

The Study proposes an intervention that may soften the impact of the railroad, especially in the area that crosses the valley, namely through the implementation of station shelters of greater transparency and the softening of the concrete walls that support the tracks.

One of the solutions may be the layering of a new coating and the application of a line of trees between the station and the place of Torrinha.

In the surroundings closer to the monument, works will be carried out in order to define the public spaces of the path, parking areas will be created and the system of street lighting and urban equipment, more consistent with the presence of the monument, shall be redefined.

In addition, we advocate the consolidation of the already existing housing facilities and the softening of the undertakings erected to the west of the Church, namely through the planting of trees.

Restoration and Enhancement
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The exterior spaces of the Church were re-qualified, and such works were focused on the surroundings the property, in parallel to its integration with the railway station.

The pavements were replaced and redesigned, thus contributing to the redefinition of motor traffic, the provision of lots intended for car parking and the creation of a small public square.

The pavements, formerly covered with tar, were replaced by gray granite flagstones and yellow granite cubes. The project also included changes to the wall along the railway and landscape and visual integration of the Church within the local context, in order to create a relation of continuity. 

Gallery
  • +Triumphal arch of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Church of Meinedo

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  • +Main altarpiece of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Nave of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Image of Our Lady of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Corbel of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Archivolts of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +South façade of the Church of Meinedo

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  • +Church of Meinedo

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  • +West portal of the Church of Meinedo

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Know More
Bibliography

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – História da Arte em Portugal: o Românico. Lisboa: Editorial Presença, 2001.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de; BARROCA, Mário Jorge – História da Arte em Portugal: o Gótico. Lisboa: Editorial Presença, 2002.

ALMEIDA, J. A. F. de – Tesouros Artísticos de Portugal. Lisboa: Selecções do Reader ´s Digest, 1976.

AZEVEDO, José Correia de – Inventário Artístico Ilustrado de Portugal. Lisboa: Edições Nova Gesta, 1992.

CARDOSO, Jorge; SOUSA, António Caetano de Sousa; FERNANDES, Maria de Lurdes Correia – Agiológio Lusitano. Porto: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 2002. Fac-simile da edição original de 1652-1744.

LOPES, Eduardo Teixeira – Lousada e as suas freguesias na Idade Média. Lousada: Câmara Municipal de Lousada, 2004. Lousada e as suas freguesias na Idade Média

LOPES, Eduardo Teixeira – Meinedo: subsídios para uma possível história desta freguesia. Lousada: Câmara Municipal de Lousada, 2001.

OLIVEIRA, A. de Sousa – A Igreja românica de Sta. Maria de Meinedo e a sua raiz na Alta Idade Medieval. Porto: [s. n.], 1969.

ROSAS, Lúcia (coord.) – Românico do Vale do Sousa. Lousada: Comunidade Urbana do Vale do Sousa, 2008.

SANTA MARIA, Agostinho de, Frei – Santuário Mariano e história das imagens milagrosas de Nossa Senhora, e das milagrosamente apparecidas, que se venerão em os Bispados do Porto, Vizeu, & Miranda. Lisboa: Off. de António Pedrozo Galram, 1716. Tomo V.

SIMÕES, J.M. dos Santos – Azulejaria em Portugal no século XVII. 2.ª Edição. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1997. Tomo I.

VIEIRA, José Augusto – O Minho pittoresco. Lisboa: Livraria António Maria Pereira - Editor, 1886. Vol. II, III e IV.

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