Se Church, Sao Luis, State of Maranhao, Brazil

One of the oldest historical monuments and important of São Luís do Maranhão, the Cathedral (or Metropolitan Cathedral) was named the Church of Our Lady of Victory, in honor of Our Lady, protector of the Portuguese in the Battle of Guaxenduba.

This battle took place in 1615, where today the city of Icatu is located and was an important military confrontation to accelerate the definitive expulsion of the French from Maranhão. It is said that, in this battle against the French, the Portuguese were at a disadvantage as to the number of soldiers. They asked Our Lady for help and were attended to. That’s why the church was called Our Lady of Victory.

The building was begun in 1619 by the 3rd Captain-General Diogo Machado da Costa who, at the end of his term in 1622, inaugurated it. Almost seventy years later, the Society of Jesus began the works of the church of Our Lady of Light, according to a drawing made by Father Felipe Bertendorf and approved by Rome. The construction was close to the modest church built by Captain-General Diogo Machado and was completed on July 30, 1699. In 1761, after the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil (1759-1760), it was determined that the assets of that religious order would pass to The National Treasury and the College and the Church of Our Lady of Light would serve as an Episcopal Palace and Cathedral.

As the first and old church was quite ruined, that of the Jesuits became a cathedral, Leaving as our patroness Our Lady of Light and beginning to have Our Lady of Victory. The old church was demolished in the year 1763. During its long existence it underwent reforms, many malfeitas, that culminated with collapse of part of the church and its reconstruction. In 1701, restoration of the frontispiece; 1737: clock display donated by the House of the House; 1768: enlargement of the main chapel by the Cabido; 1851-1927: restoration of the floor, execution of plumbing works for hydrogen gas light;

Reconstruction of the facade, with the addition of the north tower; New flooring and new paint. The present forms of the Church of the Cathedral or Metropolitan Cathedral of São Luís do Maranhão is the result of the reform occurred in 1922. In the period from 1993 to 1996, The 3rd Regional Superintendence of the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) carried out restoration works that recovered the primitive gold “covered by blue and white painting that reflect a liturgical symbolism very frequent in the Portuguese-Spanish, Austrian and South American baroque in general”.

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