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Santa Marta Church

Built in the heart of Ericeira town, the Chapel of Santa Marta e Nossa Senhora das Necessidades (St. Martha and Our Lady of Necessities) is located at the edge of the Santa Marta park. The construction of the church began in 1760 and, as with the chapel situated next to Pescadores beach, carries with it a double designation, the first of which (Santa Marta) is more common in identifying the church.

Before the construction of the building we know today, a former church with the same name was erected around 1484, next to the “furnas” or caverns and at the edge of the current recreational park. A legend recounted by Brother Agostinho de Santa Marta in his Santuário Mariano (Shrine to Mary) indicates that the Santa Marta chapel was fundamental in the foundation of the neighbourhood and the palace of Necessidades, in the capital, Lisbon. The story goes that an image of Nossa Senhora das Necessidades, existing in the church, was taken by a couple of weavers to Lisbon in 1599, and used in a chapel with the same name built in Alcântara. The theft was carried out because this image was considered miraculous, as it had saved this couple in the years of the plague. However, the image of Nossa Senhora das Necessidades disappeared in a fire that was caused as a result of the great earthquake of 1755.

The legend also makes reference to the “casa de saúde” (home of health) when speaking of the Santa Maria Chapel. Interestingly, this church was most probably located near the spring of medicinal waters of Santa Marta, in great demand in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, but not used today.

This chapel was also the seat of the confraternity of single maidens, and this is where processions and festivities evoking Nossa Senhora das Necessidades took place. With the integration of the ceremonies on the feast day of St. Peter, these celebrations finally ceased to be organised.