Commonly known as Chapel of Fandinhães, this building was once a private church building that belonged to an archdeacon from Viseu, whose lineage held its patronage, in 1258. However, nowadays only the chancel of this primitive Church remains.
Apparently, the evolution of local parishes would have been the main reason for its current state: the Church was located in the small parish of Fonte de Cova, which included the hamlets of Fandinhães, Ambrões, Mourilhermo and Paços de Gaiolo.
The facts that the hamlet of Fandinhães is located on a mountain – 500 meters above sea level -, that there was a growing population in the hamlet of Paços de Gaiolo – which stood on a milder and more central place -, and that the Hermitage of Saint Clement was built, may have caused the loss of importance of Fonte de Cova in favour of Paços de Gaiolo.
Although some authors refer 1873 as the year when the Church’s nave was dismantled, the fact is that in 1864 it was already mutilated, with its remaining structure (chancel) showing a state of decay.
Since it was ruined, it began being dismantled and its stone was reused to extend the current parish church. However, there is the perception, among several researchers, that the Church built during the Romanesque period would not have been fully completed.
We may refer what has been previously described as one of the possible causes for its non-completion: the villages located at a higher altitude, such as Fandinhães, would have begun to lose their interest from the Romanesque period onwards, in favour of other villages located in low altitude areas, close to watercourses, encouraging the displacement of populations to these places and, in this particular case, to Paços de Gaiolo. However, there is still no concrete evidence to back up this thesis.
1258 – Fandinhães was a Church patronaged by the descendants of an archdeacon from Viseu;
13th Century (2nd half) – Construction of Church of Fandinhães, taking its remaining Romanesque traces into account;
1302 – The relatives and patrons of the Church of Saint Martin donate the right of patronage to the bishop of Porto, D. Geraldo Domingues (1300-1308);
16th century (early) – Manufacture of the Mudéjar tiles found in the main altarpiece’s frontal;
1690 – First record of the Hermitage of Saint Clement in Paços de Gaiolo;
1758 – The population of the parish of Paços de Gaiolo was already concentrated mostly on the southern and western slopes of the mountain of Montedeiras;
– The patronage of Fandinhães was in the hands of the Admirals of the Kingdom;
– The Church of Fandinhães is still referred to as Saint Martin’s;
Late 18th century – Saint Clement and Saint Martin are already a single parish;
1864 – The Church’s nave had already been dismantled;
1912 – The collection and Chapel of Fandinhães were handed to the Portuguese Republic;
1924 – The corporation in charge of the Catholic worship requested the Chapel from the State;
2010 – Integration of the Chapel of Our Lady of Deliverance of Fandinhães in the Route of the Romanesque;
2012 – Draft decision regarding the classification of the Chapel as Building of Public Interest.
Architecture and Furniture
Standing 500 meters above sea level and canonically oriented, the chancel is all that remains from the primitive parish church. Besides a rectangular apse, this church would have originally been composed by a single nave, which was dismantled in the 19th century. With this dismantling, the apse was adapted to work as a Chapel by closing the chancel arch with a door, thus turning it into the main entrance.
Currently, in the churchyard, we find two ashlars that, by their featuring shapes, would give body to a cornice on little arches.
On the observer’s left – which corresponded to the Gospel side of the triumphal arch – a capital represents the topic of serpents, whose single head appears in the capital’s corner.
On the Epistle side, there are two Atlantean-shaped figures on the edges, resting on protruding leaves.
The existence of dihedral toruses in the crevices of the old apse shows us the journey of shapes and artists which characterised the Middle Ages and, in particular, the Romanesque style.
Still in the crevices, we highlight the richly ornamented capitals, either featuring a human and vegetal or an animal figure, showing the influence of the typical Romanesque style from Porto and Braga, respectively.
In terms of corbels, most of them are flat, thus indicating a late chronology. However, on the north side, some of them show geometric or human ornamentations, while on the opposite side, the human subject is also used.
In the space that once belonged to the nave, two slabs identify two graves: the larger one is engraved with a rather stereotyped sword (blade, straight guard and hilt), while on the other slab, which is smaller, a simple cross was carved.
Inside the Chapel, the back wall is occupied by the main altarpiece, made in gilded woodwork on white background and divided into three panels defined by twisted columns.
In each panel we have the image of Our Lady of Deliverance, at the centre, flanked by Saint Blaise, on the left, and Saint Martin, on the right.
Judging by the remaining traces, this Church of Fandinhães would have certainly been quite an elaborate construction, and is now a building worth visiting for its uniqueness and originality.
Regular guided visits