Just arrived in one of the cloisters where the blue of the azulejos contrasts with the white of the stone, the first surprise comes from an engraving shown by the guide: we see the primitive monastery, very different from the current one of course. But on this rare drawing is a cemetery: the one of D. Henriques’ crusaders! It is not very clear, however, that new references to this issue will be found during the visit.
If the Romans buried their dead far from the city, Christians gradually associated the two worlds. To the point of burying the dead in churches in order to place them under divine protection.
Myths and legends, rituals and quirks mark the route of the visit.
The first surprise is inside the sacristy, richly decorated with marble inlay. It contains an unexpected grave that only visitors to « Burials in São Vicente » can discover. The fragile floor of the sacristy does not allow too much trampling. Yet it is well under our feet that this mystery is hidden.
We couldn’t say any more or we’d reveal the mystery.
Not to be missed is the reliquary arch, which tells the story of the martyrs of Morocco. The tragic end of seven children aged 12 to 17 who were part of the retinue of the young king D. Sebastião, at the famous battle of Alcacer Quibir. A beautiful book that helps to understand the importance of relics (usually bodily) for churches.
St Vincent is a tomb, a pantheon.
The tombs of the kings and queens of the Braganza dynasty, preserved until now in a small room, have been repatriated here. The rich mausoleums that adorn the room dedicated to the royal dynasty impress.
You can admire the tomb of Amélie d’Orléans where her portrait in low marble relief surmounted by a starry crown strangely evokes Princess Diana of England.
A weeping woman in the purest romantic art of cemeteries is leaning over the tomb of King Dom Carlos and his son. The sumptuous marbles, the decorative crowns, the mysteries around the royal family… so many elements revealed.
In a chapel of one of the cloisters, there is a morbid statuary and its symbols: skull, sickle, and cypress branches to symbolize immortality. This chapel receives the two funeral monuments dedicated to the Children of Palhava (Meninos de Palhavã), the bastard sons of King D João V who recognized them. They had therefore been able to benefit from a royal burial.