Jerónimos Monastery: A Tour de Force of Liturgical Arts

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal is the fascinating Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.  To see this place - and to pray here - is a fascinating experience for those who visit on pilgrimage.  Our small group was privileged to celebrate Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the baptistery chapel for which we were overwhelmingly grateful.

It was a profound experience to kneel on the same stone floor where monks of the Order of St. Jerome (Hieronymites) knelt for centuries. Construction began in 1501 and was completed a hundred years later.

Although the monastery itself was taken by state decree in 1833 and never given back to the Church, Masses are still offered in the celebrated chapel, which today functions like a parish.  Meanwhile, the attached monastery is a museum.  The site is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The Chapel of Santa Maria, where Mass is celebrated, hosts a wonderful liturgical space with raised choir and further raised sanctuary with high altar.  Visitors entering the chapel have the feeling they are traversing through a vast forest as they look up past the columns to see them branching out in the towering massive vault covering the three-aisled church.

Many thanks are due to the rector who warmly received us and accorded us immense hospitality as well as to our good friend João Silveira, the go-to guy in Lisbon and Fatima for all things liturgical. (His blog, Senza Pagare is leading a crucial and much-needed renaissance of Catholic life in Portugal and her former colonies).

The celebrant, Fr. Pablo Santa Maria of Vancouver, a native of Mexico City, makes his way to the altar
The sacristy has a plethora of valuable liturgical books of various rites
The fascinating Manueline style is Portuguese gothic, seen here with nautical elements and other motifs.
The late gothic Portuguese architecture showcases a wonderful display of composite ornamentation 
Detail of an antique altar card which mirrors, in some ways, the transition from gothic to Renaissance seen in the chapel.
Detail from a sacristy panel showing the ordination of the monks. 
A watercolor image of the chapel exterior and main entrance. An impressive achievement of architecture.
(Photo: OC-Travel)

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