The Chapel of Saint Catherine (Capela Santa Catarina)

Madeiras first chapel in the park grounds of the same name: Santa Catarina

The Saint Catherine Chapel is situated in the park that also bears the saint’s name.
It was erected at the order of the wife of João Gonçalves Zarco, Funchal’s first governor, and discoverer of the island. The original Chapel was, as all other dwellings of that period, constructed of wood. A product in much abundance on the island. In the second half of the 15th century, though, the modest building was substitued to that of stone.

The chapel was rebuilt at the end of the 17th Century: and has remained untouched since. At the top of the portal the date of the year of 1425 is engraved into the stone. The date disregards the fact that the chapel has been twice reconstructed; it serves to remind us of the first small and wooden building that was consecrated on that spot .
Inside there is a small Holy Water Font from the Manueline period (16th Century), decorated with symbols illustrating the martyrdom of Saint Catherine. Simple and minute as it is the population of Madeira consider the Chapel of Santa Catarina as a symbol not onlu of the island’s discovery, but also of its colonization by people of so many varied origins, its tradition of contact with the world, and its easy acceptance of  beliefs and ideas.
 
Facing the vast sea that brought the first navigators to the shores of  Madeira the chapel of Santa Catarina binds Madeira to a past that no one wants to forget, but also links it to a future in which everyone wishes to participate.

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