Saturday, 11 May 2013

A truly 'horrible' church

With 2 hours spare in Lisbon before we caught the coach to Fatima we thought we would make a quick dash into the city centre to see the church of Sao Rocque (aka St Rock or St Roch).

St Roch - a "horrible" church
Our son and his family had visited this church a few weeks previously and had claimed that it was one of the best of Lisbon's many beautiful churches.

We took a taxi from our hotel but our driver was a little taken aback at our request of destination:
"Sao Rocque" he said: "That's a horrible church, nothing to see there, no one ever goes and, anyway, it's closed".

Hmm.....a bit of a shock to say the least. We did not have much time to spare and now our plans were thrown into chaos.
Our driver then went on to explain that there was a most beautiful church close to that of Sao Rocque and that he would take us there.

Some 15 minutes later we were proceeding past a rather grand looking church with crowds of people outside. the doors were wide open.

"What is the name of that church?" we enquired.

"Oh, that" said the driver, "That is Sao Rocque".

Without further ado Mrs Linen had tapped him on the shoulder with her parasol and commanded him, Lady Thatcher style, to stop the cab and to allow us to alight.

He grudgingly obliged and, as we paid him off Mrs L came up with the punch line:

"Well, who are we going to believe, our intellectual son or this (word deleted)" Actually, there was no 'beep', Mrs L does not use bad language (usually). But she was, of course, dead right.

Walking back towards this rather grand church ("horrible") we saw crowds of people outside ("no one goes there") and the doors wide open ("it's closed").

And, of course, on entry we were completely taken aback by the outstanding beauty of this church.

Gilt baroque at its finest, wherever you looked. It made even the most beautiful of Welsh or English churches look plain and puritanical.

The sight of so much art and beauty dedicated to the glory of God made the heart soar but, even with a wonderful sanctuary and an ad orientum marble altar, there was still the now mandatory protestant table at the forefront for the celebration of the new Mass.

Back in Pembrokeshire we have a village named after this saint, although, presumably,  in Reformation fashion the "St" prefix has been dropped. I now would like to visit the small church there to see what the connection is. In England's Cornwall there is yet another village dedicated to the saint. 'Rock' is now a very popular tourist destination for the "Rupert and Fiona" classes.


  1. Not knowing your cabman I can only guess that , what would only make it slightly better, he probably belonged to a strong iberian current of general cultural philistinism and crass idolatry of modernity and iconoclastic rejection of anything old , (horribly established in Spain in the thirties and partaken of by much of Francos establishment; with Portugese small brushstrokes I am less au fait) as opposed to some sort of catholic wreckavation confraternity - who knows!
    I would rather have mass in a concrete barn than see profaned, massless, emptied or uncatholic , what our fathers built to the glory of God whose beauty helped remind men of God's presence in this vale of tears and uplifted men's souls, but preference for ugliness and rejection of beauty is something pointing to an unhealthy conditioning, as even Huxley could portray as an artist without the theology to discern that it comes from Satan.
    As I remember Fatima, it's a touch heavy on the concrete, but it doesn't matter.
    May God bless your pilgrimage , and please ask our Lady to intercede for your readers' needs and intentions.

  2. I think your cabman was Eccles, have a look at his picture and see if he's the one...

  3. I am vaguely intrigued by what the cabbie's "much nicer" church was like...

  4. are right, especially about the concrete.
    Anon..ha, ha, but you know that Bro Eccles is really one C Longley Esq. A little known fact.

    Mac, I had the same thought. Maybe his cousin was the Deacon there.

  5. This is a truly beautiful church, I can not count the times I stopped in it , while on vacation in Lisbon. There is a museum attached to the church, that is equally beautiful..lots of old liturgical items and such that are no longer used.

  6. It certainly is a beautiful church.

    Back in Pembrokeshire we have a village named after this saint, although, presumably, in Reformation fashion the "St" prefix has been dropped.

    We can always pick up the "St" prefix and begin using it again.

  7. there was still the now mandatory protestant table at the forefront for the celebration of the new Mass. "

    This remark is unworthy of a Catholic.

  8. "there was still the now mandatory protestant table at the forefront for the celebration of the new Mass." Two things the devil hates most; an ad orientum altar and Latin.

  9. ...I'd be curious to know what this driver meant by "beautiful church," if not the one above.

  10. Dear Anon May 12, 8:21 pm,

    Having a revolutionary table, as I prefer to call them, placed in the sanctuary is unworthy of any Catholic church and an affront to true Catholic sensibilities.

    1. The theology of the new mass is also an affront to true Catholics as it minimizes the traditional view of the mass as a true Sacrifice while elevating "other" presences of Christ, such as in the Assembly present and in the Scripture proclaimed to those assembled. So the new mass becomes Cranmer's sacrifice of "praise and thanksgiving."