Photograph: Roberto Pereira
© Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais

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Name of Monument:
Church of São João Evangelista
Also known as:
Igreja do Colégio
Funchal, Portugal
Construction: 1629–1647; decoration: 1647–1750
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious, church
Author of the initial project, master of the royal works: Mateus Fernandes (active 1575–1595); master stonemason Brás Fernandes (active 1629–1635); master engravers Manuel Pereira (active 1648–1660), Manuel Pereira de Almeida (active 1690–1700) painting workshop of Bento Coelho da Silveira (1648–1708)
Society of Jesus
The church of São João Evangelista with its mannerist outline was built in 1629 by the Jesuits who established themselves in Madeira some time after 1570. The church was already built by 1647, but due to its monumental character and exuberance, works continued until the beginning of the 18th century. In fact, the Baroque style took over from the original Mannerist composition, and in meeting with the ideas of the Counter-Reformation, it called Christians to glorious salvation and elevated them in its artistic glory.

With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1760 the church was closed until 1846 at which time, aware of the monument's valuable heritage, the Civil Governor, José Silvestre Ribeiro, undertook important renovation works and returned the church to the Bishropic thereby making it once again available for religious services.
The Church of São João Evangelista has a Mannerist façade that is typical of Iberian models of the Jesuit Order. Sculptures of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Stanislas and St. Francis of Borja decorate the façade. The interior is dominated by a large nave with eight lateral open-vaulted chapels, an illusionary transept and a main chapel, all of which accord with the Jesuit model. On the walls of the nave, frescoes represent the Evangelists, scenes from the lives of several Jesuits and architectural and vegetal motifs. The wooden ceiling, with a trompe l'oeil vault and foliate paintings, is framed by two domes with allegories and quadratura compositions that align with the central axe. In the centre there is a panel with the Jesuit insignia “IHS”. The simplicity of the Mannerist architectural outline is combined with the richness of Baroque ornamentation, in line with the principles of the Counter-Reformation.
View Short Description
How Monument was dated:
Historical evidence and stylistic analysis


Special features

Interior, general view


Construction: 1629–1647; decoration 1648–1750

Mateus Fernandes (active 1575–1595) and others

General view of the interior.
Detail of ceiling


Beginning of the 18th century


Wooden ceiling with a trompe l´oeil vault.
Altar of the Eleven Thousand Virgins

Interior, Gospel side

Dated 1653


This gilt wood retable with three levels of round-arch niches containing busts and relics is surmounted by a frieze with cherubs. Above it is a painting of the Virgin Mary by Martim Conrado.
Paintings from the Life of the Virgin Mary


Late 17th century/beginning of the 18th century

Attributed to the workshop of Bento Coelho da Silveira (1648–1708)

On the wall are a series of paintings depicting scenes from the Life of the Virgin Mary, probably by the workshop of Bento Coelho da Silveira. Directly below, the chest of drawers has a gilded and carved back with panels representing scenes from the Life of St. Ignatius. The ceiling is decorated with acanthus, putti and Marian symbolism.
Gilded wood, carved retable



Attributed to the workshop of Manuel Pereira (active 1648–1660)

This 17th-century retable is considered to be one of the most remarkable Jesuit examples in Portugal.
  Selected bibliography:
Igreja de São João Evangelista see:
Silva, F. A. da, Colégio e Igreja de S. João Evangelista do Funchal, Breve Monografia Histórica, Funchal, 1947.
Smith, R., A Talha em Portugal, Lisbon, 1962.
Aragão, A., “Para a História da Cidade do Funchal”, Revista e Aumentada, second edition, Funchal, 1987, pp. 173–222.
Carita, R., Colégio dos Jesuítas do Funchal, 2 vols, Funchal, 1987.
Clode, L., Adragão, J. V., Colégio dos Jesuítas in Madeira, Lisbon, 1989, pp. 72–73.
Citation of this web page:
Alda Pereira e Cora Teixeira: Direcção de Serviços do Património Cultural  (Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais)  "Church of São João Evangelista" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;pt;Mon11;6;en
Prepared by: Alda Pereira e Cora Teixeira: Direcção de Serviços do Património Cultural (Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais)
Translation by: Cora Teixeira , Cristina Correia
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT 06