Fellow church hounds, I know you get it: the delight of stumbling on an unexpected and, more importantly, unlocked church.
With an unanticipated free afternoon in northeast Portugal’s Vila Nova de Foz Côa, HOB and I were lucky to find the 16th century parish church Igreja Matriz, smack in the middle of Foz Côa’s main square, open to visitors.
Don’t let the glorious Manueline entryway distract you from the equally pleasing variety of stones making up the façade.
The painted roof vault was certainly not what we expected.
I guess there have been earthquakes in this area because the church’s pillars were janky and leaning at odd angles.
Speaking of odd—the church was lit by crystal chandeliers apparently recycled from 1980’s suburban McMansions in the American Midwest. Whenever I encounter incongruous lighting in historic buildings I ask HOB “Were you on the lightening committee here?” HOB absolutely was on the lightening committee for Igreja Matriz.
The pillars also appear to be recycled, perhaps from a much older building.
The church art of Igreja Matriz did not disappoint, though I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy in one of the carved wooden side chapels, doomed to burn forever with his male pattern baldness prominently exposed.
Mary’s like “Oh no, don’t worry about me, it’s just a hangnail. I’ll be fine.”
The passion of Christ is second fiddle to the bootyliciousness of his tormentor.
The best part of Igreja Matriz? Butter babies!
While I’ve often seen offerings to the Virgin in the form of silver filigree body parts, these butter offerings were completely new to me. (Yeah, I realize the figures are actually made from wax, but they do look so much like those butter lambs that come out during Easter that I want to believe they are really butter babies).
The hand on the far right of the mantle give a new meaning to the phase “butter fingers.”
I wonder what the tiny butter bottle means?
I don’t know if the butter figures are meant to thank the Virgin for answered prayers or to request a favor. If I ever go return to Igreja Matriz, perhaps I’ll cover my bases and bring along some butter babies of my own. I’m thinking of a miniature pair of tights, in thanks for the Virgin for helping me find hosiery that doesn’t cause wedgies, and a butter thesaurus to protect me from people who use the word “literally” too much.
What kind of butter baby would you leave at Igreja Matriz?