The original Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo, founded in 1636, burnt to the ground; the present neoclassical structure dates from 1828. The nave has a French organ (1889) and a baroque altar with a scandalous statue of Nossa Senhora do Carmo.
Church historians claim the statue was modeled in the likeness of Isabel II, the daughter of Garcia d’Ávila (of Praia do Forte fame), the largest landholder in the Northeast.
The artist, known as O Cabra (Half-caste), was a slave with no artistic training, who supposedly had a crush on Isabel II. The Christ-child cradled in the statue’s arms has black features – could this be what O Cabra imagined their love child would look like?
O Cabra took eight years to finish the life-size image of Christ (1630) on display in the church’s small museum. The blood on the statue was made from 2000 rubies.
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