Much more than a mere repository of religious works of art or cultural elements from the past, the Treasury of the Cathedral of Lisbon can be inscribed in a reasoning devoted to a new evangelization and testimony of faith. Therefore, the mission of this space is to preserve and make known the spiritual and religious value of the magnificent collection it contains, revealing the original functions or purposes of objects with a liturgical, devotional and catechism nature. These objects – many of them true works of art – cover areas as diverse as goldsmithing, clothing and sculpture or painting, having arrived to the Cathedral between the 16th and 19th centuries. Some of them remain in use in liturgical celebrations in the Cathedral. Open to the public as a true museum since 1993, the Treasury of the Cathedral occupies four rooms.
In the first room, called “Relics and Reliquaries”, there are several reliquaries from the Cathedral collection, with an emphasis over the two reliquaries of St. Vincent, the main patron saint of the Diocese of Lisbon. The second room is entitled “The Liturgical Year”, and is devoted precisely to the theme of the liturgical calendar that the Catholic Church instituted for moments of celebration throughout the year, the many mysteries of Christ’s life. The colours of the pieces of clothing are in accordance with each moment, and the paintings and sculptures highlight some of the Christian mysteries celebrated in this cycle.
After this, it is possible to visit the magnificent “Chapter Room”, a place where meetings were held reuniting all of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Lisbon. It was built in the 18th century over the 17th century sacristy of the church. This is where three objects of notice are kept, a result of the privileges granted to the Patriarch of Lisbon throughout much of the 18th century, since the Patriarchal establishment: the Gestatorial Chair (a throne on which he was transported in some solemn ceremonies), the flabellum (a sort of large fan with feathers) and the patriarchal tiara. In a showcase inserted in the wall, the most imposing liturgical instrument currently preserved in the Treasury of the Cathedral is exposed: the Patriarchal Gold Monstrance, also called The Rich Monstrance or Monstrance of D. José. It is one of the most splendid monstrances in the world, the most remarkable liturgical object executed in Portugal in the 18th century, and it is still in use on some special occasions to carry out its original function: to hold and expose the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, for the worship of the congregation. In the fourth and final room, corresponding to the Library, it is possible to see some of the books from the present-day bibliographic and archival collection of the Cathedral. Noteworthy are the bindings of some books, and a selection of documents from the musical archive.