General Information
Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa 
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  • Name: Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa
  • Typology: Church
  • Classification: National Monument, by Decree 129/77, DR 226, of 29th September 1977
  • Municipality: Felgueiras
  • Patron Saint´s Day: Saint Vincent – 22nd January   
  • Worship Hours: Sunday and holidays - 9.30 am, Thursday - 8.00 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, Sousa, Felgueiras, Porto.
  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 20' 37.685" N / 8° 14' 56.145" W 
History
History
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Church of Saint Vincent of SousaTwo inscriptions n the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa, from the Romanesque period, allow knowing its story. The commemorative inscription of the Church’s Dedication is engraved in the external face of the nave’s wall, to the right of the North lateral portal of the temple, and states that the Church was consecrated in August 14th 1214.

As the inscription guarantees, the Dedication ceremony was presided by the Archbishop of Braga, D. Estêvão Soares da Silva, who occupied the position between 1212 and 1228. The Dedication was promoted by the Church prelate, D.  Fernando Raimundo. August 31st 1214 befell on a Sunday, as was recommended by the canon to conduct this type of ceremony.

The second inscription is older, from 1162, corresponding to a mortuary memorial or commemorating the construction of an arcosolium. Should it in fact a funerary inscription, it is the earliest specimen ever recorded.

Historical Figures
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Father João Pereira Pinto
João Pereira Pinto (30th March 1659 - 17th February 1733) is son of Jerónimo Vaz de Sá and D. Jerónima da Cunha.

Keen on the ecclesiastical life, he was devoted by incessant reading and thorough study, enriching the letters with his various productions in Portuguese, Italian and Latin, standing among them the "Apparatus historicus", not being less curious the one titled "Benedictus XIII, Summus Pontifex Ecclesia Gratia Benedictus".

Expeditionary in Rome in long period from 28 to 32 years, did not forget their homeland, having been tireless work undertaken on the Apostolic See for the beatification of King D.  Afonso Henriques, which the Canons Regular of Santa Cruz of Coimbra were so committed to.

Returning to the kingdom by royal order, he passed away on February 17, 1733, in Lisbon receiving the most majestic funeral, celebrated in his honor by order of King D.  João V, in consideration of his valuable services.



Saint Vincent of Fora Saint Vincent of Fora
Vincent of Zaragoza or Saint Vincent of Fora, born in Huesca, Spain, was a martyr of the early fourth century, who suffered martyrdom at Valencia.

The imperial chief Daciano, during the reign of Diocletian, filed a persecution to Christians in Iberia.  Vincent refused to offer sacrifices to the gods and suffered various tortures to death in 304.  As deacon, he was responsible, in the Diocese of Zaragoza, for preaching and asset management.

According to tradition, during the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, his body had been transferred to the current Cape Saint Vincent in the Algarve, to avoid desecration. The relics followed in 1173, to Lisbon, by order of King D.  Afonso Henriques, thus being the patron of the Patriarchate of Lisbon and the Diocese of the Algarve.

Legends and Curiosities
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Church of Saint Vincent of SousaTwo inscriptions on the walls of the Church testify its age, both being of the Romanesque period and of valuable importance to the knowledge of the history of this building.  

The first is to commemorate the Dedication of the Church and is engraved on the exterior wall of the nave on the right side of the north portal of the temple, indicating the year of 1214.  The Dedication ceremony was chaired by D.  Estêvão Soares da Silva, Archbishop of Braga between 1212 and 1228.   

The second inscription is even older, corresponding to a funeral memorial commemorating the construction of an arcosolium of 1162. This inscription, which culminates with a cross, can be either a reference to its funerary contents, or the initials of the mason. In the case of representing the former situation, this is the earliest recorded example of an arcosolium with funerary function.

Chronology
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1162 – The original transept was already built;

1214 – Dedication of the Church by the Archbishop of Braga, D. Estêvão Soares da Silva;

 17th and 18th centuries – Renovation and transformation of the Church and reconstruction of the chevet;

1980 – Several preservation and restoration works conducted by the parish under the technical guidance of the DGEMN – Direção Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacionais [General Directorate for Buildings and National Monuments];

1989 – Conservation and requalification of the covers, exterior draining and electrical installation;

1992 – General improvement works to the coverage, restoration of the ceiling and altar;

1998 – The Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2004 – Works of general preservation in the scope of the Route of the Romanesque of  Vale do Sousa project;

2005 – Works of general preservation of the batters in the bell tower and sacristy;

2012-2013 – General conservation of the Church, mostly at the levels of the roofs and external walls, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque;

2015 – Works on the surrounding area by upgrading the churchyard (sealing, street furniture and sealing / identification of the resulting graves of the archaeological excavations), under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

Specialities
Architecture
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Monument of religious architecture, built according to the Romanesque and Baroque trend, Saint Vincent of Sousa is a Church of longitudinal plant planimetry remodelled in the eighteenth century and decorated in a Baroque style.

Plan of the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa 

The Church consists of nave and rectangular chancel, and also holds a bell tower, erected as a wall, adjacent to the southern façade of the chancel.

In the main façade, facing West, a portal is opened in a projecting pentagonal stone structure so that the portico may become deeper.

The side façades are topped off by little arches on plane corbels, where the cornice sits.  The walls feature two illumination spans whose profile indicates that they were opened in the Modern Period.

On the north façade, the portal comprehends two archivolts and a tympanum with the representation of a cross circled by entwinings, contrasting with the south portal, of plain structure and flat tympanum.

In medieval buildings it is common to find the cloisters to the south side of the Sun, thus organizing the monastic rooms around it, including the chapter house, refectory or dormitory.  In this Church, in fact, one will see that, in the South façade, at half the wall, a drip course runs over corbels, elements that bear witness to the presence of a roofed porch or the existence of a cloister.

Plan of the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa

In contrast, in the north façades there were porches, narthexes or chapels for funeral rites and tombing.  For this reason, these façades usually feature apotropaic motivated sculptures which avoid all that is negative.

The north façades feature animals with fierce appearance, like dogs, lions or serpents, hybrid and fantastic animals, like griffins and harpies, or crosses surrounded by entwinings or pentagrams, Solomon’s knots and other similar signs. In this Church, however, you may find an entwined cross in the tympanum of the south portal.

The bell tower, adjacent to the South side, despite being topped with later elements, may correspond to its original medieval structure.

Once inside you can admire a nave with two side altars, angle points, a triumphal arch of major height in the centre and a wooden ceiling with curved profile, painted blue with a purlin in burnt sienna colouring, with four lateral medallions and one central medallion.

The chancel features a gilded altar and polychrome coffered ceiling.  The bell tower is of narrow rectangular plan with two arched lugs, both with bells, and surmounted by volutes, pinnacles and cross.

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 Vincent of Sousa

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.

The lighting of the monument is not the most appropriate and should be reformulated, as well as the positioning of the Electrical Substation deployed to the north should be revised, given its negative impact on the environment.

The residential buildings in the vicinity of the square of the Church must be the subject of landscaping, as well as the spaces in the parking lot will have to be rearranged.  Before the expansion of the cemetery, the adjacent area shall be subject to a landscape recovery.

Restoration and Enhancement
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The intervention that the Church underwent in 2006 served to restore and preserve the paint on chestnut wood, located in the chancel, whose support and painting were first applied in 1693, the painter Manuel de Freitas Padrão, from Guimarães, one of the founders of the Brotherhood of Saint Luke of Guimarães.  

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa

The ceiling of the nave, in chestnut wood and barrel vault, was carried out in the eighteenth century polychromed and, most probably in the same period, with a monochromatic water-green colour. In the mid-twentieth century one central figure was painted, representing the Resurrection of Christ, flanked by a representation of the Evangelists, one for each corner of the ceiling.

If the first figure was performed directly on the substrate, the other four images were produced on canvas and fixed in the ceiling with contact adhesive.  Later, the roof was covered with synthetic bright green lettuce-coloured enamel, except the most recent figures.  The purlins also suffered a marble-like painting .

The wooden planks of the ceiling were raised to access the interior near the rosette in the Church's façade.  The back surface was cleaned of dirt and accumulated debris and its attachment structure to the roof was revised and strengthened.  In areas of vulnerable woodwork and poor mechanical strength, acrylic resin was applied with a brush.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa

In order to make the curative and preventive immunization against the attacks from insects that feed on wood, an insecticide / fungicide product was applied with residual action for 10 years.

The closing of the opening giving access to the back surface was replaced, and also revised and strengthened in its connection to the roof by fixing with stainless steel screws.

The canvases of the four Evangelists were easily removed with a spatula and no underlying paintings were found.  After cleaning the traces of glue, the screens suffered a mild chemical cleaning to remove surface dirt. 

The repaint of synthetic enamel on the ceiling and in the purlin was removed with paint remover, scrapers and spatulas, without resorting to heat. The aged mortar between board joints were removed and replaced with elastic dough made of fiberglass.

Then, a primary insulator, already attuned to the approximately defined colour through liquid concentrated dyes was applied and the final painting, in a single coating, was carried out.  In order to grant an aged hue to the ceiling, a coat of Jewish bitumen was applied.

The canvas of the Evangelists were restored to the same place, fixed to a support of maritime plywood with two millimetres.  These paintings, like the central one, were not framed, so a frame was placed in bas-relief around each one of them.

The purlin and applied frames were painted with a natural sienna earth hue, featuring in the doors of altarpiece, in the purlin on the ceiling of the chancel, in the back surface of all exterior doors and furniture of the Church, at the same time that the granite stone present in the Church is harmonized.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa

The polychrome gaps were filled with colour abstraction technique, after the cleaning of the surface with solvent.  Finally, we applied a layer of protection with a mate varnish for paintings in all figurative paintings.

The side altars of the Church were also subject to an intervention for conservation and restoration.  Over 60 days we proceeded to the cleaning of the polychromy, gilding and the preventive treatment of the retable structure.

For cleaning, in which saturated swabs were employed, a mixture of xylene and ethanol in equal parts was used, with the exception of the water green areas that were cleaned only with dichloroethane.

Gallery
  • +Baroque sacrarium of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Lateral altarpiece of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Chevet of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Nave of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Sectioned Box of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Image of Saint Gonçalo of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Lectern of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Main altarpiece of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Voussoirs of the west portal of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Capitals of the west portal of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Church of Sousa

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  • +South façade of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Bell tower and arcosolium of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Church of Sousa

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  • +Archivolt of the main portal of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Voussoirs of the west portal of the Church of Sousa

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  • +Capitel the west portal of the Church of Sousa

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Know More
Bibliography

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

BARROCA, Mário Jorge – Epigrafia medieval portuguesa: 862-1422: Corpus Epigráfico Medieval Português. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, 2000. Vol. II, Tomo I.

BOTELHO, Maria Leonor – São Vicente de Sousa: e o românico nacionalizado da região do Vale do Sousa. Felgueiras: Município de Felgueiras, 2010.

BRANDÃO, Domingos de Pinho – Obra de talha dourada, ensamblagem e pintura na cidade e na Diocese do Porto. Porto: Oficina Gráficos Reunidos, 1984. Vol. I.

CARDONA, Paula Cristina Machado – A actividade mecenática das Confrarias nas Matrizes do Vale do Lima nos Séculos XVII a XIX. Porto: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 2004. Vol. I.

CRAESBEECK, Francisco Xavier da Serra – Memórias ressuscitadas da Província de Entre Douro e Minho no ano de 1726. Ponte de Lima: Edições Carvalhos de Basto, 1992. Vol. II.

FERNANDES, M. Antonino – Felgueiras de ontem e de hoje. Felgueiras: Câmara Municipal de Felgueiras, 1989.

FERREIRA-ALVES, Natália Marinho – A arte da talha no Porto na Época Barroca: artistas e clientela, materiais e técnica. Porto: Arquivo Histórico - Câmara Municipal do Porto, 1989. Vol. I.

RODRIGUES, José Carlos Meneses – Retábulos no Baixo Tâmega e no Vale do Sousa: séculos XVII-XIX. Porto: [s.n.], 2004. Tese de Doutoramento em História da Arte, apresentada à Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto. Vol. I e III.

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

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