Name of Monument:

Church of the Paulistas

Also known as:

Igreja de Santa Catarina; Igreja dos Eremitas de S. Paulo da Serra d’Ossa


Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal


17–18th century


Architect unknown; woodcarver: Santos Pacheco de Lima (active 1728); stucco ceiling: António Pimenta Rolim (c. 1759/1851); stucco work: João Grossi [n.d.], Toscanelli [n.d.]; painters: André Gonçalves (1685–1762), Francisco Vieira de Matos (known as Vieira Lusitano 1699–1783).

Denomination / Type of monument:

Religious architecture, monastic church


Padre Mestre Fr. Diogo da Ponte (1647)


In 1647, under the initiative of Father Diogo da Ponte, the Church of the Paulistas was founded as part of a convent for the Order of the Eremits of St. Paulo da Serra d' Ossa (Paulistas). It was built on the site of the former Church of Santa Catarina dos Livreiros. Building began in 1654 but the structure was seriously damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and building was resumed with a new façade and vaults of the nave. Even so, parts of the original church were preserved and incorporated into the newly built church.


An urban church of considerable dimensions and flanked by other convent buildings. The façade has two symmetrical towers and a great receding pediment in the Late Baroque style. Three great stone arches give access to a large vaulted porch. The plan is based on a Latin cross with a single nave and side chapels, transept and a chancel. The altars are decorated in carved and gilded woodwork. Despite rebuilding, the church is mainly a synthesis of Baroque and Rocaille features, although during reconstruction in 1763, Neo-Classical elements were introduced. The church houses a collection of Baroque paintings by André Gonçalves. The richly decorated high altar was one of the first to be built during the reign of King João V. Designed by the master carver Santos Pacheco in 1728 its monumental wooden structure is flanked by two Italian-inspired Solomon columns, and a Churrigueresque column adorned with angels. The Solomon columns resonate theatrically with the great sculptural work in the pediment. Together these features mark the transition of a new taste in gilt wood carvings that witnessed great thrones and frontispieces inspired by Bernini and Andrea Pozzo.

View Short Description

The Church was part of a convent founded in 1647 for the Order of The Eremites of St. Paulo da Serra de Ossa, known as the Paulistas. The plan, based on a Latin cross, incorporates a deep chancel and side chapels. The interior decoration is well known for the carved and gilded woodwork of the altarpieces and the stucco ceiling.

How Monument was dated:

Historical evidence and stylistic analysis

Special features

Façade with Two Towers and Main Door pediment




The façade with two towers is peculiar to the architecture of the Congregation of the Eremits of St. Paulo. The main door pediment features the symbol of the Holy Sacrament, the second devotion of the church.

Main chapel and High Altar Altarpiece


Retable 1728; ceiling c.1689/1751

Retable: woodcarver: Santos Pacheco; stucco ceiling painting: António Pimenta Rolim (c. 1759/1851); painting: André Gonçalves (1685–1762).

The high altar features an altarpiece depicting St. Catherine, St. Paul and St. Bulão, made during the reign of King João V. It marks the transition in taste of the altarpiece genre, adopting large monumental structures partially inspired by Italian architecture.
The stucco ceiling depicts an allegory of the Holy Trinity, and on the walls are paintings by Andre Gonçalves.

Nave vault and transept



João Grossi [n.d.], Toscanelli [n.d.]

Stucco work in the nave and transept representing the Holy Trinity.

Organ Case

Epistle side, above the two first chapels close to High Choir.

c. 1770

Organ maker: unknown; painting: workshop of Francisco Vieira de Matos (known as Vieira Lusitano) 1699–1783.

A magnificent organ case produced during the second half of the 18th century. Paintings by Vieira Lusitano hang in gilded frames. Beneath the organ are late 17th-/early 18th-century gilded wood retables.

Selected bibliography:

Santos, R. dos, Oito Séculos de Arte Portuguesa, Vol. II, Lisbon, [n.d.].
Neves, E. A. da Silva, “A Igreja de Santa Catarina”, Olisipo, No. 115/116, Lisbon, 1966.
Berger, F. J. G., Lisboa e os Arquitectos de D. João V, Lisbon, 1994.

Citation of this web page:

Paulo Pereira "Church of the Paulistas" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;BAR;pt;Mon11;15;en

Prepared by: Paulo Pereira
Translation by: Lili Cavalheiro, Cristina Correia
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PT 15