Postcard from Coimbra, Portugal: Churches and Cloisters

The nuns did it. All those Saturdays of catechism in addition to Sunday services at Star of the Sea.

Plus trips to confession. Having to enter the curtained cell, knowing stern Father Habit was there on the other side of the screen, habitually demanding you come up with a list of sins, even at age seven. Forcing you to make up stories about bad things you didn’t do in order to convince him to finally dismiss you with the standard penance to utter “three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers and all your sins will be forgiven.” A pretty nice out if you’re feeling guilty about something.

Anyway. Count me in as one of the lapsed, generally entering churches only for weddings and funerals, which fortunately do not summon me frequently. Kind of like the angel falling off the rooftop in one of these photos.

But, while traveling, I make amends. Crash Catholicism make-up periods. A pilgrimage. Rarely less than a church a day. If crossing the threshold and peering into every nook and cranny open to the public counts, I turn into a faithful church-goer.

Frankly, I’m smitten by ancient churches – the history, beauty, power and mystical symbolism they hold. So many stories. The demonstrations of people’s belief in miracles. Soaring walls whispering mysterious secrets.

Most of the time taking photos is inappropriate, but here are a few photos from this voyeuristic approach to Catholicism taken in Coimbra….

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2 thoughts on “Postcard from Coimbra, Portugal: Churches and Cloisters”

  1. I’ve never been to Portugal, but your images and text are convincing me that I need to go.


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