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Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei
Sanctuary of Christ the King

Kathy Sullivan


Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei (National Sanctuary of Christ the King), located in Almada, Portugal just outside Lisbon, is a large sculpture and building appreciated for both its religious significance and uniqueness as well as the extensive views the site offers of the city of Lisbon. The Santúario Nacional is also an active religious site. This is another Portugal cultural site, we would like to visit again and fully explore the interior as well as capture more views of Lisbon from the elevated location.

A visit to the Santúario Nacional provides both a religious experience but also panoramic views of the city of Lisbon. Wide open views of Lisbon across the river provide scenic views and photo opportunities. In addition to lovely views of Lisbon, Cristo Rei offers visitors the opportunities to make a pilgrimage and also to follow the Stations of the Cross outdoors.

Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei

The interior of the structure has several areas including the main area with pews and a sanctuary. The walls were decorated with colorful religious images. Off to the side was an alcove with a large blue image where people can pray focused on the Ecce Agnus Dei (Latin for “Behold the Lamb of God”). Long, dark blue drapes set the section apart from the main area. Another adjacent room offered large religious images for visitors to observe.

Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei

Santúario Nacional de Cristo ReiThe idea of constructing the Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei began in the 1930s in Lisbon when the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, His Eminence Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira visited Brazil. In Corcovado the Cardinal saw the Statue of Christ the Redeemer and it inspired him to have a similar monument built in Lisbon. Several years later, after going through proper channels, the Portuguese bishops provided three reasons to build the monument to Christ. From the Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei website:

1 – The obligation and need for social atonement for the universal conspiracy against Christ.
2 – A great national obligation to show gratitude for being spared from the war. Unlike other countries, Portugal, due to a singular act of Divine Providence, was living in peace and progressing spiritually. Thus the Monument would be a profound and heartfelt act of thanksgiving to Christ.
3 – The need for national restoration.

It is important to note that Portugal stayed neutral during World War II. In 1940 at an annual retreat, the bishops made the vow. “If Portugal is spared from the War, a Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be erected facing Lisbon, as a visible sign of how God, through love, desires to conquer for Himself all mankind.” However, many years passed before enough money was acquired to fund the monument.

Eventually the monument was constructed, completed and in 1959, it was inaugurated.

Take a look at scenes we captured at Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei.


Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei     Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei     Santúario Nacional de Cristo Rei

Article written September 2018


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