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Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro - Felgueiras

The oldest documented reference concerning Pombeiro is from 1099, recording the existence of a coenobium. However, it is even more significant for the understanding of this monastic house’s history the document from February 10th 1102. This document states that the Monastery was founded by Gomes Echiegues and his wife Gontroda.

On August 1st 1112, Lady Teresa grants a Land Charter to the monastery, turning it into a privileged land with a judicial system of its own run by its abbot.

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    • Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro - Felgueiras

      1059 – Foundation of the Monastery, according to tradition;

      1099 – The oldest documented reference to the Monastery;

      1102 – D. Gomes Echiegues and his wife Gontroda sign a donation charter in favor of the Monastery;

      1112 – The Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro is bestowed with a Land Charter;

      1199 – Date engraved in an embedded panel by the Epistle, next to the cloister’s access door. It is an epigraphy of funerary purpose reporting to D. Gonçalo, an abbot who performed an important part in the Monastery of Pombeiro, founding something [«Qui Fundavit…»]. This epitaph may indicate the start of the Romanesque factory of Pombeiro;

      1252/1276 – Abbacy of D. Rodrigo, marking the architectonic peek of the monastery’s medieval structure;

      1427 – Commendatory abbots become responsible for the monasterial management;

      1526-1556 – Abbacy of D. António de Melo;

      1500-1530 – Approximate date of the mural painting program filling part of the church interior. A few fragments remain from this campaign in the apsioles and also in an uncovered arch in the wall of the nave to the South side;

      1566 – The Congregation of the Black Monks of Saint Benedict of Portugal is created;

      1568 – The Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro’s main structures were severely ruined. Only the church featured a certain artistic nobilitation;

      1569 – On September 14th the monastery is integrated in the Benedictine Congregation;

      1584 – The 5th General Chapter of the Benedictine Congregation is held in Pombeiro;

      1589 – A visit to the building is conducted, under Filipe II, leading to the renovation of the Monastery of Pombeiro;

      1589 – Friar Bernardo de Braga is elected as the triennial abbot of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro, a nomination which gave rise to the triennial abbacy election system;

      1629 – According to documentation, the towers of the façade were already built;

      1719 – In March this year, the first stone is laid to build the Chapel of Saint Quiteria, raised over the Hermitage of Saint Peter, in the dependency of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro;

      1719/1722 – Friar Bento da Ascenção’s triennial rule takes place between 1719 and 1721, starting the renovation process that intended the monastery’s Baroque modernization;
      Works in the main façade and also in the transept of the monastery’s church are carried out;

      1760s – Start of the church’s maintenance works that would grant a Rococo ambiance to it;

      1770/1773 – During this triennium, the main chapel is totally rebuilt, the altarpiece ensemble corresponding to the main altar being made during this period; According to documentation, in 1770 the box for the church organ was made, as the latter was then being finished in Guimarães; Intervention of the artist Friar José de Sato António Ferreira Vilaça;

      1776 – The church transformation ensues. The church’s lateral retables are sold; Beginning of the execution of the pulpits, placed face to face in the church’s central nave, being completed in the following year;

      1777/1780 – In 1777, new structures in the modern fashion replace the former retables. Two other lateral retables are made during this period;

      1783 – The church organ of the monastery was already placed, being considered as “one of the best in the order”;

      1809 – On May 13th, a great fire would destroy a large part of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro’s community area, the church being the sole building untouched by calamity;

      1819 – In this year, and following the campaign initiated after the catastrophe that had hit the Monastery years earlier, the reconstruction of the monastery’s community area takes place: the Chapter Room, the library, the hostelry, the barns, among others, are built; Purchase of new filling for the sacristy;

      1822 – Continuation of works in the cloister, which would never come to be completed;

      1834 – Beginning of the process of extinction of the religious orders in Portugal;

      1910 – On June 23rd, the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro is classified as National Monument;

      1958/1987 – During these years, the DGEMN supervises the restoration of the various elements of the complex, particularly focusing on the church;

      1993/2006 – Rehabilitation and recovery of several structures under the supervision of the IPPAR.

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    Architecture and Furniture

    • Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro - Felgueiras The construction of the Church as it is today, although highly renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries, corresponds to the work of the Romanesque period, probably initiated in the last quarter of the 12th century, but only finished in the first decades of the 13th century. So seem to indicate the typology of the rosette in the West façade and the West portal’s sculpture and projection.

      The Church building is the only one in the entire monastic ensemble to have preserved the majority of the Romanesque structure. Two towers were added to the temple’s West façade and, according to documentation, they were already raised in 1629. This addition might be related to the state of ruin shown in the galilee, a construction destined for burial purposes, where the arms of Portugal’s ancient noble families are featured.

      The exact location of the celebrated galilee of Pombeiro is therefore an open subject, particularly considering that recent archaeological excavations seem to reveal traces of its existence.

      The construction of the towers between the late 16th century and the first quarter of the 17th century would lead to the renovation of the façade with the intent of providing more light to the temple and allowing the construction of a wide chancel and its organ.

      In the 1719-1722 triennium, the wall between the two towers and the respective rosette, framed in a large window as in the See of Porto, was moved forward, becoming aligned with the towers and thus structuring a new façade, with niches for the images of Our Lady, the church’s devotional saint, and Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, patrons of the Benedictine Order.

      Concerning the Church transept, documentation assures that the main chapel was fully rebuilt in 1770. Its original plant was semicircular, like the remaining apsioles shown.

      The Church is composed of three naves of three flights each, covered by diaphragm arches and wood. The transept is only noticeable in the height, showing its volumetric in the exterior.

      The main portal is a remarkable example of Romanesque sculpture. The superbly sculpted capitals of botanical inspiration show a highly crafted skill with granite and represent the best that was made in this region.

      There are similarities in the Churches of the Saviour of Unhão (Felgueiras) and Saint Peter of Ferreira (Paços de Ferreira). The impost blocks made of simplified palms support six archivolts, three of which with Proto-gothic frames. There are voussoirs with confronting animals, as in Braga. Others feature palms and animal heads from whose mouths spring ribbons and others feature quite salient floral decoration with highly detailed relief.

      The façade keeps the primitive rosette, rather wide and Proto-gothic in style, with an identical structure to Paço de Sousa’s (Penafiel).

      On the other hand, the lateral projections follow schemes from the Modern Period, that is, they show typical scenographic approaches from the schemes used in Rococo architecture and decoration.

      At the entrance of the Church of Pombeiro, in the area protected by the chancel, are two armoriated sarcophaguses covered with lying statues which may be attributed to the late 13th century and the beginning of the following century. The arks were part of an important burial nucleus formerly sheltered in the Monastery’s galilee, a pantheon of the nobility of the lands between the Douro and Minho Rivers.

      Engraved in two granite panels embedded in the transept’s East wall, in the corner of the South apsiole, is the commemorative inscription of the deposition of relics in the Church of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro.
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    Regular guided visits

    • By appointment.

Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro
Lugar do Mosteiro, Pombeiro de Ribavizela

Rota do Românico
Praça D. António Meireles, 45
4620-130 Lousada
+351 255 810 706

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Opening Hours:

Celebrations: Sunday: 8 am and 10.45 am; Holidays and Religious Holidays: 8 and 10.45 am.

Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro - Felgueiras

Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro - Felgueiras