The Igreja do Colégio (Church of the College)

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A review of the history of the Church

Who built the church and how

Dedicated to St. John  the Evangelist, the Igreja do Colégio (College Church), as it is known today, was completed in various stages. Some, such as the niches for statues that ornament the façade, and the decoration of some of the lateral chapels, were not complete till  the 17th Century.
The academic College and the religious Church have stood side  by side in the square in thoughtful compliment. The arquitecture of the College is notably austere. The second was designed with rigorous symmetry, centered by an enormous portal, which originally opened above a wide staircase that projected toward the  front of the church. This no longer exists and one ascends to the entranc through the lateral flights of stairs.

St. Francis Xavier’s statue

Over the doorway there are windows that illuminate the interior and the four niches that shelter the marble statues of St. Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuit Order), St. Francis Xavier (missionary to Portuguese India, whose tomb is in Goa), St. Francis of Borga, and St. Stanislau.
The interior of the church is spacious and richly decorated. Some say the ancient Egyptians substituted the trunks of palms trees for columns made of stone, but that the baroque architects transformed stone columns into trees. So, with great effect, many of the  altar columns are sculpted into fantasies of intertwined branches, flowers and fruit, intricately  carved in rich woods and overlaid with gold leaf. Elaborately painted ceilings and  portrayals of religious scenes, portraits of saints, and decorative tiles -  traditional to Portuguese art  since the Middle Ages help complete the theatrical effect of the interior church.

The altar in the College Church

The architecture as well as the paintings in the church are the work of an Italian from Tuscany, whose name has been forgotten. As for the sculpture, it was done by the Portuguese artist Bras Fernandes, an 18th Century renowned master.

Detail of the fine carpentry and  inlaid gold leaf in the College Church

Blue and white tiles hidden  in the College Church

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