Five Wounds Church, San Jose

Five Wounds Church along East Santa Clara Street in San Jose. Courtesy of Antonio Joao Saraiva

The Portuguese National Church of Five Wounds is located in the beautiful County of Santa Clara. Five Wounds Church are the heart and soul of Little Portugal in San Jose, CA. The church is a breeding ground for Portuguese culture; however, recently the church has experience a decline in attendance, as well as a decline in mass given in Portuguese. The mission of this proposal is to, first, give context to the situation of Five Wounds by examining the historical associations between the site, its key investors, and modern establishments. Next, with the proper historical accounts in place, an appraisal of the situation identifies the potential threats of to the Site and addresses dilemmas obstructing the revitalization of Portuguese culture in Little Portugal. We will take into account and appraise the concept of place, of interpretation and multi-vocality, and of community. Next we will propose short, medium, and long term goals for the site.

In the preparation of the Plan, our team conducted personal interviews of the residences and business owners of the Site, recorded and documented as much historical information as we could gather, and synthesized the interpretations of locals with respect to the overall themes addressed in this course, including the cultural creation of heritage places, cultural heritage, museums, stewards, stakeholders, interest groups, digital documentation, ecological and environmental perspectives, cultural property and Ethics, preservation, management, conservation of heritage, screen media, as well as the pros and cons of tourism for heritage management. Of these themes, the major emphasis of our work is aimed at sustaining the intangible heritage of the Site since tangibly, there is little the church needs. Therefore, we have focused on  the intangible aspects such as creating intergenerational community relationships through religion, language, and education.

The Plan’s underlying theme is to identify, protect, restore, expand, and sustain Five Wounds and by extension the community in which it is embedded, to deliver a Plan which can be adopted by the Comity, including the healthy rotation of Comity members. Although it has been suggested that the best way to sustain the Portuguese culture at Five Wounds would be to turn it into a museum, we believe that such an approach is overly static and one which does not account for the living people at the Site.

Interior View of Five Wounds

As in the Presidio management plan, this management proposal does not favor one object, building, or province within the Site over another; it takes into account and favors the Site as a whole. Although the church is an invaluable component, this plan aims to encompass the site of Little Portugal as a whole for a simple reason. There would no purpose for Five Wounds if the people did not attend mass. There would be no need for St. Isabel if there were not so many hungry people who depend on it for their daily bread. This project would not be potent if it solely focused on the church itself because that which we seek to sustain in the context of cultural heritage penetrates church walls, crosses highways,and extends beyond the Atlantic.

Wedding at Five Wounds Church. Courtesy of Danny Photo Studio


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