Carmelite Chronicles: The Vicariate of Brazil

September 16, 2014 |

The provincial chapter of Portugal of 1595, presided over by the prior general, John Stephen Chizzola, erected the vice-province of Brazil and drew up statutes for its proper administration. John de Seixas was elected first vicar provincial, to be succeeded in three years by Bartholomew da Silva. The priors of the four Brazilian convents were named: Bartholomew de Evora, Pernambuco (Olinda); Jerome de Carvalho, Bahia; Peter Viana, Rio de Janeiro; Anthony de Alfama, St. Vincent’s (Santos). In 1600, the prior general, Henry Silvio, decreed that the vicar should reside in Bahia, the most centrally located convent. Because of the great distances between houses and the difficulty of communication, local communities were given the power to elect their priors. In 1596, Olinda, later Bahia, became houses of study. One of the professors at Bahia, Ignatius of Jesus and Mary, produced an enlarged edition of the Doutrina Christiãa ordenada a maneira de dialogo para ensinar os minimos (Lisbon, Miguel Manescal, 1678) of Cardinal Marcello Durazzo, nuncio to Portugal, which underwent a number of reprintings.

By 1606, São Paolo (1596) and Paraiba had been added, and the vicariate numbered ninety-nine members. By 1635, this number had risen to two hundred, and convents had been founded in Angra dos Reis, Sergipe, Mogí das Cruzes, São Luis (Maranhão), and Belém (Pará).
An early casualty of the Portuguese missionary effort occurred in 1619. Frei Louis do Rosario, of the Lisbon convent, set out for the Indies on the same ship with Martin de Souza de Sampaio, governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco. The Portuguese were captured by a Dutch ship bound for the East Indies, and Frei Louis was among forty persons thrown overboard. He had in his arms a statue of Our Lady of Mercy and managed to keep afloat while he comforted his companions. When he clutched at the side of a boat, one of the Dutchmen lopped off his hand with an ax. He was finally dispatched by gunfire.

The same year, Anthony of the Incarnation, prior of Olinda, was poisoned by a person whose evil life he had reproved.

Carmelite Chronicles are taken from The Mirror of Carmel by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

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