Those who go to sea pray to return from there. Sea and devotion are closely linked and in Ílhavo, land of sailors, this relationship is materialized in the Maritime Religious Center, inaugurated on August 8, 2021, as part of the celebrations of the 84th anniversary of the Ílhavo Maritime Museum.
This new museum equipment, the first maritime-themed religiosity center in Portugal, is intended to preserve and exhibit a valuable collection of works of art and cultural goods of a religious nature, which reveal the relationship of the islanders with the sea.
The facility is located in the former barracks of the Ílhavo Voluntary Fire Brigade, which has since been renovated and is situated in the center of the town of Ílhavo, and is an extension of the Ílhavo Maritime Museum.
The Maritime Religious Centre is divided into four permanent exhibits, each on a different theme: Sea and Devotion, Ilhavense Faith, Treasure room and Ilhavense Devotion. In addition, it also has an area for temporary exhibitions, currently with the exhibition exhibition "From a Collection to the Museum - Porcelain Saints from Vista Alegre", by Carlos Manuel Teles Paião, open until January 2022.
The Sea and Devotion room explores the relationship of religion and beliefs in maritime life - a connection that extends at least as far back as the time of the "Descobrimentos" (Period of Portuguese Maritime discovery and expansion), continuing to the present day in fishing communities. In this room you will find, for example, an image of São Rafael, which sailed for years in the officers' cabin of the cod fishing ship of the same name. Also in this area six images can be seen that were on the altar of the paquete chapel in Vera Cruz, as well as the altar of the chapel of the Fishermen's Quarter of Ílhavo.
Ilhavense Faith is the name of the area that gathers religious figures, clothes, and utensils belonging to the Ílhavo Parish. In this room, which unlike the others has no connection to maritime culture, you will find imposing figures such as Senhor dos Paços, Saint Ivo and Senhora da Soledade, as well as countless pieces that reflect several decades of Franciscan worship in Ílhavo.
In the Treasure room, upon entering, one finds, right away, a monstrance, one of the most important pieces of Renaissance goldsmithery. Also to be seen here is the pectoral cross of Bishop D. Manuel Trindade Salgueiro, mounted on a relic of a small fragment of the bones of Francisco Marto, one of the three little shepherds of Fátima.
Ilhavense devotion is the ex-voto room, numerous pieces that were offered to Senhor Jesus dos Navegantes, over the years, as a form of gratitude for the protection in the afflictions at sea. Among the donations are several paintings allusive to the maritime theme, vases, music played in ordered masses, and a miniature of a codfish schooner, which is part of the Senhor Jesus dos Navegantes float every year, and which will continue to be seen on procession days.
During the visit to the museum, one can also contemplate a painting by Júlio Pires, made especially for this space, a contemporary interpretation of the connection between the sea and the devotion of the maritime communities.
About 70 percent of the pieces in the museum are on deposit by the Ílhavo Parish and most of the rest belong to the Ílhavo Maritime Museum archive and private collections.
Until the end of 2021, the Maritime Religious Center has free admission.
Tuesday to Saturday