Manueline sacristy - entrance to the chapel reliquary

Constantino de Sampaio17th century

Alcobaça Monastery

Alcobaça Monastery
Alcobaça, Portugal

Entrance to the Reliquary Chapel. Built into the New Sacristy, this chapel of supreme beauty and spirituality – dubbed the “Mirror of Heaven” by Reynaldo dos Santos – built between 1669 and 1672 under the Abbot Constantino de Sampaio.

It has an octagonal layout and its interior is completely covered in gilded wood carving. Light is provided by a skylight in the cupolaed ceiling. This filtered,diffused light accentuates the theatrical, almost fantastical ambience of the chapel. The Baroque polyptic in gilded and polychromatic carved wood features 89 reliquary sculptures housed in niches distributed on six levels.

Seven of these sculptures are full figure. The central sculpture is the Virgin Mary; indeed she is the central figure in the whole Cistercian imagery. She welcomes the worshipper to chapel with a serenely inviting gesture of the hands. To her right is the figure of St. Benedict and to her left is St. Bernard, wearing the Benedictine and Cistercian habit respectively.

The chapel’s ostentatious and delicate Baroque gilt carved wood structure is crowned by the ceiling made of carved and polychromatic stone.


  • Title: Manueline sacristy - entrance to the chapel reliquary
  • Creator: Constantino de Sampaio
  • Date Created: 17th century
  • Location Created: Alcobaça Monastery, Portugal
  • Rights: José Pessoa

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