1. Sacristy in the parish church of Escalhão
INVOKING ST. JEROME, patron saint of translators and librarians, will centre today on the search for iconography of the saint in the parish of Escalhão, in the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, district of Guarda.
I took the road from Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo to Barca d’Alva. Although the search I was undertaking was in my mind, I must admit that on that summer day my goal was the Douro and its stunning landscapes. As I passed through Escalhão, I couldn’t help but notice the imposing construction on my left, right next to the road. It was the parish church of that area. I later learned it was a reconstruction of the 16th century, dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. I stop, park, and since the church was closed, I ask around if anyone knows what I have to do to visit the church. The key soon appears and I enter.
I stop at the sacristy and, astonished, the saint was there on the ceiling, accompanied by three other doctors of the church. I have no doubts. There was St. Jerome with his lion to identify him. The fresco needed conservation work, as can be seen in the photograph taken at the time. As I write, I know that Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo Council has recently carried out restoration work. I haven’t yet discovered who the painter of the fresco in the sacristy was, probably dating back to the 18th century, when the church underwent renovation work.
Happy, I then headed for the Douro.
Carlos Castilho Pais
2. Portal of the parish church of Escalhão