With its nave of colored marble, this church is one of the loveliest and oldest in Santos. Its origins date back to a chapel where runaway slaves used to hide, built around 1756. The Our Lady of the Rosary of Black Men (slaves) Brotherhood, however, was formed in 1652 – and disbanded in 2008 – and had an altar in the old parish church, which was moved because of restoration works in the 18th century. With the demolition of this building, the Church of the Rosary became the city’s main church, a status it maintained for 15 years, until 1924, when the Cathedral was inaugurated.
The marble high altar showcases a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, 2 meters tall, installed in 1900. The statue is made from wood from Bahia and above it is a fresco depicting a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit. To the left of the statue stands the figure of Jesus carrying the Cross and to the right, Saint Benedict.
The church’s internal side walls display frescos with an Arab influence, painted in wide strips with alternating colors. As you enter the church you can see on the left statues of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Anne, Saint Expeditus (on an altar) Our Lady of Hope, Saint Sebastian, Saint Therese, The Infant of Prague, The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Joachim. On the right are statues of Our Lady holding a severed head, Our Lady of Aparecida, Saint Sara Kali, Our Lady, Untier of Knots (on an altar), Saint Braz, Saint Gonçalo, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Joseph and Our Lady of Pity.
The statue of Saint Joachim, wearing boots, is very striking. It is considered a relic. A direct descendant of King David, according to the Gospels, Joachim was the father of Mary, mother of Jesus, who was born 60 years after his marriage to Anne. Using ancient documents their basis, historians believe that he died at the age of 80, when his daughter was 12. Saint Joachim was the patron saint of the Brazilian pioneers, who used to put a statue of the saint on the prow of their boats as a protection against the dangers of the river and Indian attacks. That is why he is depicted wearing boots, which are characteristics of the pioneers.
The vaulted ceiling boasts friezes in relief, which join together to form rosettes. Inside each rosette are sacred images and symbols whose objective was to communicate with the faithful for, until the 19th century, most people couldn’t read.
The main entrance door is flanked by two stained glass windows. Above these, on the first floor, are three more colorful compositions, in which the figure of a crown stands out. Above, at the top, centrally placed, we can see the stained glass window depicting a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit. The church’s only pulpit, on the right in the nave, is made of Carrara marble. The Rosary Chapel was the only chapel in the then village of Santos which gave sanctuary to runaway slaves and mulattos. It was gradually extended until work finished in 1822, with the construction of the clock tower. At this time, the village had around 1800 residents – one third white, and the rest composed of afro-descendants, slaves, Indians and people of mixed race.