Church of Our Lady of Ó
Sabará, Minas Gerais, Brazil
The devotion to Our Lady of Ó, which is intertwined with the worship of Our Lady of Expectation, emerged in the seven antiphons sung the week before Christmas, which began with the interjection “Ó”, invoking Christ, each day using a different messianic title, based on the Old Testament. According to G. Bazin, this chapel is one of the most beautiful monuments in the Minas region due to its rich decoration in the King João V style and the chinoiserie paintings. Unfortunately, there is no reliable information available about the artists who worked on it. We can assume, however, that at least one of them was Jacinto Ribeiro, “a single man who lives from painting, a native of India, aged 38”. This man practised his art in the Minas region from 1711 onwards. His name is mentioned in one document dated 1721 found in the Sabará archives. Through other sources, it is known that, in 1717, the pious women who worshipped Our Lady of Expectation asked the town council for “70 braças of land in a square” in the arraial of Tapanhuacanga to incorporate into the property of the small chapel they were building using the donations of believers. Two years later, Lucas Ribeiro de Almeida, the captain-general of Vila de Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Sabará, decided to build a new larger chapel in thanksgiving for miraculously surviving a fall from a horse – an episode depicted in the votive painting he placed in the sacristy on 20th December 1720 and which still remains in the same place. It is likely that the captain-general also had the chapel decorated, since, according to G. Bazin, the magnificent decoration “dates from approximately 1725”. It is composed of “red and gold wooden panels, embellished with paintings and dark blue panels with gilded motifs imitating Chinese lacquer”. According to A. da Silva Telles, “the style of the wood carving of the crossing arch, walls and ceilings,completelydividedbythesepanels”,“hasan archaic look, specifically of the 17th century, displaying elements of vines, flowers and birds”. The richness of the interior contrasts with the simple appearance of the façade, which is canted into three sections, with the bell tower in the same section as the main door. The church was listed by IPHAN in 1938.