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The Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch) in Lisbon was the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world, and one of the first Jesuit churches anywhere.
It served as the Society’s home church in Portugal for over 200 years, before the Jesuits were expelled from that country.
At the same time the king of Portugal, Dom Manuel I (reigned 1495–1521), sent to Venice for a relic of St.
Roch, the patron saint of plague victims, whose body had been translated to that city in 1485.
The agreement with the Brotherhood, however, included the creation of a chapel for St. The first stone was laid in 1555, but the building was redesigned and expanded (its present version) in 1565.
This style, the “auditorium-church” ideal for preaching, became popularly known as the “Jesuit style” and was widely copied by the order throughout Portugal and in the Portuguese colonial towns in Brazil and the Far East.
The simple and sober exterior of the church, characteristic of the Portuguese “plain style” (estilo chão) contrasts with the highly decorated Baroque interior with its glazed tiles, gilt woodwork, multi-colored statues and oil paintings.
Elsewhere the tile decoration includes botanical elements, volutes, puttis, symbols of the Passion, and the monogram of the Society of Jesus (“IHS”).
In the niches above the two pulpits are white marble statues of the four Evangelists.