Our Lady of Penha de França
The Marian cult of Our Lady of Penha de França, which was hugely popular among the people of Lisbon, dates back to the late 16th century, but became particularly pronounced in the wake of the 1755 Earthquake. Sailors facing danger out at sea had long asked the Virgin Mary, in the form of Our Lady of Penha de França, for her intercession, but it later became popular to invoke her for the city’s protection. Through Mary, Lisbon would be defended against all manner of evils, not least pestilence and earthquakes.
The caption beneath this devotional tile panel reflects that very concern:
On Saturday 1st November, All Saints Day, in the year 1755, at half past nine in the morning, a great earthquake destroyed the churches and the entire city of Lisbon. On the morning of the Sunday, the 2nd of the month, Our Lady of Penha was taken from her church, which was in ruins, and taken to the terrace of this property, where she spent several days praying for the sinners. This chapel was built for her where she was treated with great tenderness and received the utmost veneration from all of the Christian. On 2nd July 1756 she was transferred to her new church with great pomp and solemnity, where to this day she has been venerated and adored.
In the interests of preservation, the tile panel was removed from its original place and substituted by a copy in the 1980s.
© Museu de Lisboa