Historic Church in Bebedouro Undergoes Interventions to Preserve Its Tile Sets

Preventive maintenance work has been conducted by a specialized team hired by Braskem

Maceió, April 18, 2024 - The Igreja Santo Antônio de Pádua, located in Bebedouro neighborhood, is undergoing interventions to preserve the original characteristics of the Portuguese tile covering that makes up the facade. A consultancy hired by Braskem recommended preventive maintenance for properties identified as having historical value by the Municipality of Maceió and located in areas designated as vacant by the Civil Defense.

The intervention is being conducted by a team of specialists who have previously worked on the Igreja dos Martírios, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Maceió, and the Cloister of Igreja de São Francisco in Salvador (BA). These buildings house the second-largest collection of Portuguese tiles in the world. All work complies with heritage preservation laws and is under the supervision of competent public authorities.

Estácio Fernandes, project consultant and conservative restorer, explains that the Portuguese tiles found in Alagoas date back to the mid-19th century. This occurred after Brazil signed a trade treaty with Portugal, leading to the importation of a large quantity of tiles, primarily for use on house facades. "In Maceió, these tiles were notably used in towers, domes, and church facades, alongside 'embrechados,' which is a technique for decorating walls by applying fragments of materials such as ceramics and shells."

Fernandes further emphasizes that the tile cannot be seen just as an isolated object, artifact or purely artistic manifestation. "It has to be understood as a cultural element, as it presents manifestations that reflect the political, social, and economic circumstances of the time in which it was produced. The tiles found in Igreja Santo Antônio de Pádua were made using a technique in which a mold was used to apply the design and then the piece was baked in an oven. An unusual pattern - not easily found in Bahia, for example - and therefore deserving of due care regarding its recovery," he says.

The preventive maintenance work on tiles is done manually and in different stages. First, adhesion tests are conducted to ensure the tiles adhere properly to the wall. Next, the tile set undergoes physical and chemical tests, desalination, and treatment against fungi. Afterward, the tiles are sanitized, and the paint is restored. When necessary, some parts are restored. Finally, a layer of varnish is applied to protect the coating. The services are expected to be completed next June.

From a Simple Chapel to the City's Mother Church

In addition to the tile preservation work, historians and architects hired by Braskem are preparing a dossier with historical information about Santo Antônio de Pádua Church. Among the initial data collected by the expert team, a publication from 1928 in the Revista do Instituto Archeologico e Geografico Alagoano records that the church's history began around 1816 when Portuguese Antônio Maria Aguiar, then the owner of the land, built a simple chapel in an area of farms where many families lived.

According to the book "Bebedouro: comunidade de história e fé" by historian João Lemos, Commander Jacinto Nunes Leite, another Portuguese man, acquired the land where the chapel was located. As the village grew and the number of believers increased, he decided to demolish the small structure and build a church. The construction took place between 1870 and 1873, including the decoration of the facade with tiles imported from Europe.

Years later, in 1913, the Igreja de Santo Antônio de Pádua became the Parish Mother Church of Bebedouro, hosting assistance programs, religious celebrations, and festivities.

Commitment to Maceió

The preservation of historical heritage in vacated areas, along with culture and cultural manifestations, is outlined in the Socio-Environmental Agreement signed in December 2020 between Braskem and the Federal Public Ministry, with the participation of the Public Ministry of the State of Alagoas and the Municipality's adherence. This commitment is also among those reaffirmed by the petrochemical company to the city of Maceió and its residents.

Out of the 21 buildings permitted for maintenance and restoration of structural integrity, 20 have already completed the work. These initiatives also encompass monitoring, compiling a dossier of properties with historical value, inventorying cultural heritage, supporting cultural group activities, and issuing promotional notices aimed at maintaining, preserving, and enhancing local culture. All details are available at www.braskem.com.br/compromissosmaceio .



Eduardo Ramos