Photograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNFPhotograph: Carlos Santos,  © MWNF

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

Contact DetailsChurch of the Paulistas
Igreja de Santa Catarina
Calçada do Combro no. 82
1200-115 Lisbon
T : +351 21 346 4443
F : +351 21 322 4159
E :
Patriarcado de Lisboa  (Responsible Institution)


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 PereiraPaulo Pereira

SURNAME: Pereira
NAME: Paulo

AFFILIATION Faculty of Architecture, Technical University of Lisbon

TITLE: University Lecturer

Paulo Pereira holds an MA in Cultural Studies and has been a speaker at numerous seminars and congresses in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the United States and Brazil. Paulo has co-ordinated and published books about Portuguese art and history, some of which are award winning. He is curator of several exhibitions held in Portugal, Ghent, Brussels and Berlin and been a contributing author for several exhibition catalogues. He has exercised managerial roles within the Town Hall of Lisbon, was Vice President of the Portuguese Heritage Institute (IGESPAR) and is a lecturer at the Technical University of Lisbon (Faculty of Architecture).

Translation by: Lili Cavalheiro, Cristina CorreiaCristina Correia

SURNAME: Correia
NAME: Cristina

AFFILIATION: Eça de Queirós Public High School, Lisbon and MWNF

TITLE: Senior Teacher, Local Co-ordinator and Vice-President of MWNF

Cristina Correia is a History graduate and, since 1985, a Senior Teacher of History at the Eça de Queirós Public High School, Lisbon where she also lectures in Portuguese Language and Culture for non-native speakers. From 1987 to 1998 she was involved with youth affairs, primary prevention and the Camões Institute. She is Vice-President and Local Co-ordinator (Portugal) for MWNF.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: PT 15


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