Estudo e intervenção de conservação e restauro num grupo de relicários de madeira policromada do séc. XVII, provenientes da Igreja de S. Vicente, Abrantes

  • Alexandra Sofia Félix Carvalho (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The Catholic Church is the most represented religion in Portugal, it is estimated that the ecclesiastical historical and artistic legacy corresponds to around 75% of all portuguese heritage. The profusion of artistic reliquaries, of different shapes and materials used for the purpose of conserving and glorifying relics, largely contributed to this legacy. Among the sets of reliquaries that have survived intact over time, one of them comes from the Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Graça, currently belonging to the Church of S. Vicente in Abrantes (district of Santarém). This set of twenty reliquaries with different typologies is defined by their artistic singularity and their unique character without subsequent interventions. It stands out for its material wealth, artistic work characteristic of the 17th century, and for its state of deterioration. The deterioration of this ensemble is notable, not only due to the passage of centuries, but also due to all the environmental factors to which the sculptures were subjected. Four reliquaries were selected - S. Isidro Padroeiro de Madrid, S. Agapito Martir, S. Paulino, S. Lucio P.M. - from the present set, to develop studies in historical context, iconography, analytics and conservation- restoration. In the historical context, the Monastery of Nossa Senhora de Graça, demolished in 1901, was identified and the inventory of cultural and extinct assets of the monastery was reviewed in the Historical Archive of the Municipality of Abrantes and in Torre do Tombo. The iconographic situation made it possible to locate the altarpiece-reliquary to which these reliquaries belonged and traced the correspondence of a relic from the present set to the incorrupt body of the saint, to which it supposedly belongs. The analytical study was carried out using radiography, optical microscopy observation of stratigraphic sections, Fourier Transform Infrared Micro-Spectrometry (micro-FTIR) and X-ray Fluorescence Micro-Spectrometry. This support allowed us to better understand some factors of degradation, such as lacunar areas of polychromy and direct conservation and restoration procedures. This intervention, carried out at the José de Figueiredo Laboratory (Lisbon), consisted of restructuring the wooden support and reintegrating polychromy into the tempering technique.
Date of Award12 Jan 2024
Original languagePortuguese
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorNuno Camarneiro (Supervisor) & Elsa Filipe de Andrade Murta (Co-Supervisor)


  • Reliquaries
  • Iconography
  • Material identification
  • Conservation and restoration


  • Mestrado em Conservação e Restauro de Bens Culturais

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