Ambiences and Tendencies
donate Books CDs HOME updates search contact

Heroism, Grace & Beauty

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Tower of Belem

 

It stands alone, defying the vastness of the waters that open before ii. Seeing it, one thinks of a tower-shaped palace, spacious, large, imposing, with its several floors topped by a lookout pathway, where the guards can view the whole horizon.

Surrounded by patios, terraces and watchtowers, the fruit of a daring conception, a mixture of the militant and the sacred, the Tower of Belém is, in my view, one of the most beautiful monuments of Christendom.

When I saw it for the first time, I was immediately taken by its charm. It was the form of grandeur and pulchritude that I wanted to know, but could not imagine. Contemplating it with my own eyes, this thought came to mind: "I already had a presentiment of it, but I could not put it into words. Everything in me was inclined toward it, toward the desire that something like this should exist. Here is the tower that I had so longed for!"

I felt a very intense consonance that united us. It seemed to me magnificent in its dignity, calm, distinction and majesty. In its vigor, strength and, at the same time, suavity and delicacy, present in those balconies from where the King and the court watched the departure of the valorous sailors. I could imagine the farewells on both sides, the hats and handkerchiefs waving their good-byes and all other expressions of warmth and friendship towards those who were leaving. This whole picture came at once to my imagination because of this consonance I felt with the Tower. To remember it is for me a source of joy: "There is the Tower. It exists and I can always see it again!"

An extraordinary portrayal of a noble and serious boldness resolved to confront the sea, it invites us to higher thoughts. Its atmosphere is incompatible with superficiality, intrigue and the pettiness of human baseness. From it emanate spiritual and supernatural aromas, the marvelous perfume of divine grace, built as it was by souls moved by the Catholic spirit, whose artistic inspiration was surpassed by a kind of charisma and celestial gift in order to reach that splendorous achievement.

A work of the past, it speaks to us of the future. Its gleaming white stones transport us to a fairy tale.

It is the proper symbol of heroism, grace and beauty.

It seems to me that certain places and monuments, which do not have a direct religious meaning, but constitute a defined cultural expression that is very Catholic, should be admired for love of the Church. The Tower of Belém is one of those places.

I give it such an appreciation because I love the Mystical Bride of Christ. And when I praise it, I do so with a religious sentiment because grace touches my soul upon seeing it and perceiving in its charms the expressions of Christian sentiments that led the Lusitanian sailors, missionaries and conquistadores to take up that epopee – the Age of Discovery – that left its indelible groove in the waters of History.


Tower of Belem at night

The Tower at night - a reminder of the great maritime discoveries


Posted August 13, 2011

Related Topics of Interest

Related Works of Interest