Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua – Ornamentation

Interior decoration of the San Antonio de Padua parish has great importance in the Chilean art history. Central nave ceiling depicts paintings by Giovanni Mochi, a Florentine painter who came to Chile especially for taking over the post of director of the Fine Arts Academy between 1876 and 1883.

The fresco over the altar represents Father God, and over His head a luminous triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity. Saint Francis appears in another fresco.

Nave ceiling is profusely decorated with moldings. Central nave has colorful stained glass windows providing light to the inside of the church. On each side of the stained glass windows, there are paintings portraying Capuchin Saints.

Main Altar has a sculpture that is a replica of the oil painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in which Saint Francis embraces Christ on the Cross.

Confessionals and devotional altars are framed by pilasters in the lateral naves. Altars, made of wood painted in marbleized shades, boast golden Greco-Latin columns crowned with a triangular pediment, except for the altars heading each nave, whose pediments comprise scroll moldings.

Some images from devotional altars stand out, such as a polychrome wood carved image of Saint Francis brought from Catalonia, Spain; the Virgin of the Three Hail Marys, another polychrome wooden image also from Catalonia, Spain; and Saint Anthony of Padua, a polychrome wooden image from Bavaria, Germany.

Paintings over confessionals supposedly were the works of a Peruvian painter called “the poor painter,” whose surname was Ávila, and whose representations are all based on biblical passages. For example, we can see mercy portrayed in “The Sinner and the Forgiveness,” “The Prodigal Son,” “Cain and Abel,” “Sodoma and Gomorra,” among others. Curiously, only one of these works has Ávila’s signature and it’s written backwards along with the year 1861.

In one of the lateral altars, there is a relic of a martyr, who was discovered in the catacombs of Rome. It consists of the ashes from a child who was executed in the 3rd or 4th century. Ashes are contained in an image that seems to be alive.

In the right hand nave, there is a wooden altar displaying the Capuchin and Franciscan crest. This altar would be rotating. On the other side of the crest, there is an image of Saint Pío, made of Chilean wood.

Stations of the Cross would be of a French origin.

Above the organ, there is a painting representing Saint Lawrence of Brindisi. According to the inscription, the organ would be French as well.

We would like to thank especially Father Sergio Uribe Gutiérrez, without whose help, information and patience, these texts would never be written.




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