Igreja de São Francisco, the St. Francis Church
Destination Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina.
Igreja de São Francisco, downtown Florianópolis
Also in Florianópolis, everything seems to be in a deep rest on a Sunday morning. All shops, bars and restaurants are closed. At half past nine, the first shutters were opened halfway: only the staff had access. That was also the case for the local McDonald’s. They would only open at ten o’clock. For me and Vítor there was no other choice but to wait patiently. To stay in front of McDonald’s? No. Not at all. We walked through the city, and noticed two yellow-white towers looming on the left. It was not a branch of Mercado Público, but a church. Igreja de São Francisco, the St. Francis Church. The square in front of the church was surrounded by a fence. It was open, inviting us to enter. A homeless person sat on the square, in the shade of a conifer. His worldly possessions were no more than a half-full plastic bag and a dirty blanket. He grinned at us; we saw the few remaining brown teeth. He had a deeply wrinkled face as a result of year-long exposure to the intense tropical sun. His eyes were questioning, begging for compassion; his gesture confirmed the message, broadcast by his eyes: ”Do you have a charity for me, amigo? “
In return we laughed kindly at him, the homeless man leaned back against the tree, and returned to his world. He muttered to himself. We walked to the entrance, entered the church. Vítor automatically made the sign of the cross, and bent to one knee. I followed his ritual. It is very common for Brazilians entering the cross sign making, while some bend the knee too. Nor is it uncommon to pass by the churches and graveyards to make the cross sign. For an outsider it must seem strange to observe bus passengers, when passing a church, make a cross sign when they notice it. For Brazilians, it was very strange that I did not. They asked openly, and wondered if I believe in God. Several times I had to explain that in the Netherlands is not the custom to make the cross sign when passing, or entering churches. At present, I have adapted myself to the Brazilian habit, and Dutch people would look strange at me, when I will show this in the Netherlands …
One poster showed a long list of activities, organized by the church. One mass every day. There were some hours scheduled for the less fortunate. Scheduled hours for confessions. Scheduled hours for the rosary. Once a week, bread would be distributed during mass. Maintenance of the cemetery. Helping missionaries. And a dozen more activities. It is clear that this church has strong influence in daily lives of the parishioners. A few parishioners were already sitting in the church for their prayers. A mass was about to start at ten o’clock. We walked quickly through the church, and I took my pictures. Without flash, respecting the serene and divine atmosphere. We left the church; the homeless man was still sitting there. I handed him a few coins. His grin showed sincere gratitude.
Formally, the church is named “Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco da Penitência”, and is one of the oldest religious societies (1745) on the island of Santa Catarina. For more than seventy years, this society had no independent church: they had to do with a private chapel next to the Igreja Matriz. In 1754, the terrain was donated to the Society in 1802, the building permit was granted by the prince regent Dom José. In the same year, construction of the church was started, and two years later the building was inaugurated. In 1819 the church was consecrated.
In 1851, the side doors were permanently closed due to rumors that the towers were about to collapse. The church itself had undergone minor changes, and is a fine example of a mixture of baroque and neoclassic styles. The Igreja de São Francisco now is a recognized historical monument in downtown Florianópolis.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator
- Travel in Brazil: PRAIA DO FORTE, ILHA SANTA CATARINA (SC) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: FLORIANÓPOLIS (06). Mercado Público (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: FLORIANÓPOLIS (05). Heading for Downtown (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: FLORIANÓPOLIS (03). To the Federal University (UFSC) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: FLORIANÓPOLIS (04). Hyper Shopping Mall Iguatemi (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)