Blog Archives

(1) Five Wounds Church: Background


Five Wounds in the Early 20th Century (Date Unkown). Courtesy of Portuguese Historical Museum

History :

Located at 1375 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose, CA (just off U.S. Highway 101) the Portuguese National Church of Five Wounds are the heart and soul of Little Portugal. On November 16, 1913, Portuguese residence of San Jose purchased the land to what became the site of Five Wounds. However, it was not until 1914 that the parish was created. In collaboration with Mr. Manuel Teixeira de Frietas, the Portuguese community asked Archbishop Patrick Riordan for the blessing to build a church. The blessing was given and in 1914 “we opened the house that today is the parish residence and the first bazaar in benefit of the church.” But in 1915, through a petition signed by the Portuguese residence of San Jose, the Archdiocese of San Francisco officially approved the parish as the National Church of Portuguese of Five Wounds. Timber and wood from the Portuguese Pavilion that was in display in the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 was used to build the church.  The building material, which was brought over from Portugal to build the Portuguese Pavilion, was transported by wagon through the Camino Real. On the 15th of November “Msgr. Henrique A. Ribeiro celebrated the first mass as pastor of the new parish.”

Modern Context :

             Since its creation, Five Wounds has been an integral part of the Portuguese community. Although historically Five Wounds has been able to sustain dedicated pastors bilingual in both English and Portuguese who been willing to work with the community, during the 21st century the church has not been able to host a pastor that stays longer than two years. In early 2011, the church announced that the current Pastor Rev W. D. Morgan will be stepping down from his duties at Five Wounds because he feels like the Portuguese community is unhappy with his leadership. Currently, the church is experiencing a lack Portuguese culture; a decline in bilingual mass and community participation has caused the church to rethink its leadership. However, the community continues to support the church financially and hope for a better one.

National Portuguese Church of Five Wounds


Five Wounds Church Inteperative Plan


(2) Five Wounds Church: Key Players (Stake Holders)


Clergy Members: Key players of Five Wounds (Date is Unkown). Courtesy of Portuguese Historical Museum

The Plan addresses key players and interest groups, both obvious and inconspicuous, from immediate community members to “memory” community members surrounding Five Wounds in order to recognize and respect their stake in the Plan. Overall, the Plan has an opportunity to institute a variety of engaging activities that may keep current stakeholders as well as attract new ones to the church. This would, in the long run, keep the spirit of Five Wounds alive and promote a perpetuation of the culture within Little Portugal. The development of events and activities considered in the modern contexts, when applied to concerns of key players, may result in an enhancement of cultural experiences, a win-win type of situation. The follow were identified as stakeholders of Five Wounds:

  • The clergy, and especially the priest’s influence and involvement in the church are directly correlated to the future growth and development of the church
  • Portuguese Community in San Jose (not including the younger generation): Due to the historical implications, the Portuguese community developed a deep personal value towards the church.
  • Vatican Church: The Vatican’s, having the most at stake in Five Wounds Church includes tangible and intangible items. The church being part of a larger and powerful organization, the Vatican is the top leader for catholic churches worldwide.
  • Diocese of San Jose: The diocese of San Jose is under the direction of the Vatican. The Vatican appoints leaders to the diocese and that leadership decides what is best for the churches in the district of the diocese of San Jose. This branch of leadership decides the decisions of the church; recently, the diocese decided to rent out the school house adjacent to the church to a private organization.
  • Younger Portuguese Generation: their stake is having the church available to them once they grow older. In other worlds, the preservation of the Portuguese heritage in the church is at stake.
  • Local Businesses: their stake is economic. Businesses in Little Portugal benefits economically by church goers getting .
  • The Vietnamese community in San Jose also utilizes the church on Wednesdays and Saturday nights for mass.
  • Portuguese Band: Bands use the space to promote Portuguese heritage through their music.
  • St. Isabel Kitchen uses the space to feed needy families. This organization is supported by Five Wounds.
  • Needy Families:  Families that are in need of food look to Five wounds Church for help. Located to the building adjacent to the church, families are able to attend the kitchen of Santa Isabel for free food; no questions asked.
  • Daycare: the current tenant occupying the space that was once the school of Five Wounds is a private daycare. The daycare pays a monthly rent to diocese of San Jose.


Portuguese Bakery located in Little Portugal. Many church goers get their pastries after mass.

(6) Five Wounds Church: Implementation (Action Plan)- Short Term Goals


Fundraiser: Efforts by Five Wounds

Short Term Goals:

Proposing short term goals is difficult in the sense that this Plan had to first identify which projects, when implemented, would strengthen the succeeding implementations. It was like arranging a set of dominoes upright in a predetermined path so that when complete, the entire project would rely on only one push. Such effort is converse to the current implementation plans by the Comity which  deals with annual events and issues as they come along. This proposal aims beyond the festivals and Sunday mornings to give a supportive yet dynamic structure to the sustainability and practice of cultural components comprising the Portuguese culture of Little Portugal up to any international relations. The following are the proposed short term goals:

      • Setting up locked donations boxes at the entrance of the church.  Collections from boxes may be used to offset some of the expenses used by the food kitchen at St. Isabel’s next door.
      • Redeveloping the educational facilities.  This will be done by having weekly meetings among key players and stakeholders until an agreed until an agreement is made. Courses in Portuguese culture and language should be thought in collaboration with the local state and community colleges.
      • Creation of arts and crafts course to attract children, teenagers, and parents.
      • Implementation of multiple interactive Cultural Heritage Day throughout the year in the church parking lot. For example,  events at the festivals can include cooking classes, cooking contest, arts in crafts, etc.

Up Close shot of the graduating class of 1967 school picture

(7) Wounds Church: Implementation (Action Plan)-Medium and Long Term Goals


Display at Portuguese Historical Museum

Once the short term goals are meet, the medium and long term goals will serve to further strengthen the sustainability of Five Wounds. The plan’s final strategic move is to build a stronger connection with the home land of Portugal. The goal is to continue developing the educational facility, educate and celebrate the Portuguese culture, and the beautification of the church.  We believe that in twenty five years it is possible to begin holding events within the church by inviting scholars, politicians, and ambassadors’ representative of the Portuguese people. Throughout history, Portuguese immigrants have been prominent in contributing to the development of culture and society in the United States. Benjamin Cardoza, the Supreme Court Justice (1932-1938), John dos Passos (1896-1970), the author of the famous USA trilogy and other works on American society, John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), the composer of America’s best-loved marching songs, were men of Portuguese heritage who have important places in the history of the United States. Although these great people are no longer of this world, the idea is clear that members of the Portuguese community can carry the culture of the Portuguese people by speaking directly to them at the church of Five Wounds. The following are the important goals we have identified to strengthen Five Wounds through a 25 year period.

Medium Term Goals:

    •  Have graduating students reach out to  other students from every educational institution in San Jose to serve as role models. In addition, they will promote Five Wounds through the advertisement of their experience and the Portuguese culture.
    • Digital documentation of clergy members. This project will allow future visitors to revisit the history of the church. In addition, the documentation will allow for research to be conducted on the church.
    •  Begin the process to find an individual to fix and clean the organ. In addition, the construction of a second stairway to meet San Jose building codes must begin. Access to organ will enhance visitor experience.
    • completion of an unattended portion of an incomplete ceiling paint job right above the main alter.

Long Term Goals:

      • Document the number of individuals engage wit the free services provided by St. Isabel Kitchen.
      •  Requests the local government for an  easier travel rout for visitors and tourists to Little Portugal.
      • Creation of a shuttle between Five Wounds and the Portuguese Heritage Society (only 3 miles apart).
      • Creation of promotional tours video feed aimed inside the church. This would give internet viewers a freedom to explore the church at their own direction and offers the potential to stream video feed across the internet for special occasions

Sign of Portuguese Museum

(10) Five Wounds Church: Interpretive Project Profiles-Ascertaining Authenticity

Interior of Five Wounds: Examine the Architectural style

Ascertaining Authenticity:

This ongoing project will address such questions of authenticity within the intangible and tangible portions of church structures. for example, making architectural descriptions available to audience members over the correct analysis of Five Wounds becomes foundational to any claims of “authentic” (or in this case, unauthentic) style. This project will be executed by reprimanding the official church website to correctly identify the buildings “authentic” style. How? By building paragraphs embodying a certain portion of Manuelian architecture, such as armillary spheres found on ships (a navigational instrument and the personal emblem of Manuel I), and then providing two pictures for the reader to choose from; one picture will perfectly embody the Manuelian style, and the other will not. We hope that this will begin to help audience members establish what the core representation styles of Manuelian architecture are in order for them to create critiques not only on the church of the Five Wounds, but what will ultimately serve them in any travels as they mention to their mate “Aha! I have seen such a structure before – this style is Manuelian!”

Exterior Picture: Examine the Architectural Style