Architecturally speaking, this is one of the most valuable of Tavira´s many churches due to the renaissance features on both the entranceway and the interior and unique to the Algarve.
The Santa Casa da Misericórdia (Religious Charitable Institution) was founded in Tavira at the beginning of the 16th century. Initially, it took up the lateral chapel of the Convent of São Francisco (Saint Francis). In 1541, André Pilarte, master stonemason and Tavira resident, was ordered to build the Church of Misericórdia (Compassion).
Above the renaissance entranceway, there is a niche with a statue of Our Lady of Compassion, flanked by the shields of Portugal and Tavira and by two high reliefs depicting Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Inside, attention is drawn to the renaissance columns (differentiated by the use of gargoyles for the capitals) and the altarpieces in the main and co-lateral chapels, good examples of gold leafed 18th century carving. On the walls, the 18th century more than holds it own with depictions of the work of Compassion and scenes from the life of Christ. There is also a small adjoining cloister to visit.
After the 1755 earthquake, the Church was used by the Matrix through to 1800, when the new Matrix Church of Saint Mary was consecrated.