The painted ceiling of the nave is a trompe l'oeil composition so as to give the illusion of a barrel vaulting supported by four large arches. Between the arches squared balconies are painted and “above” these balconies there are three huge domes or cupolas rising on rings of open arches and columns. The initial work was painted in 1588 by Francisco Venegas (1578-1590), royal painter to King Philip II. The Jesuits commissioned later the large central medallion (The Exaltation of the Cross), as well as the 8 large rectangular paintings and 12 monochrome panels depicting Biblical events. The ceiling near the front of the church was damaged in the 1755 Earthquake and was rebuilt and repainted afterwards. The entire ceiling was restored for the first time in the 19th century. In 2001 a complete and thorough restoration was carried out. It is the oldest painted ceiling remaining in Lisbon.


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