Historia Da Ordem Do Carmo Em Portugal

By Smet, Joachim | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Historia Da Ordem Do Carmo Em Portugal


Smet, Joachim, The Catholic Historical Review


General and Miscellaneous Historia da Ordern do Carmo em Portugal. By Balbino Velasco Bayon, O. Carm. (Lisbon: Paulinas. 2001. Pp. 755; 29 plates.)

Fifty years ago, very little was known about the history of the Carmelite Order on the Iberian peninsula. As far as Spain is concerned, this lack was amply filled with the publication in 1994 of the third volume of Balbino Velasco's Historia del Carmelo espanol. Now the volume under review performs the same service for Portugal. A prolific author, Father Balbino is a member of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome, the Real Academia de Historia, and the Academia de San Quirce de Segovia.

The first reference to the presence of Carmelites in Portugal is the mention of Mor (Moura) in a list of the convents of the province of Spain dated 1354. The Order received an important impetus through the patronage of the Constable of Portugal, Nuno Alvares Pereira (1360-1431), hero of Portuguese independence, who founded the great Carmo of Lisbon and later entered the Order as a humble semifrater. It was no doubt due to his influence, among other factors, that the two Portuguese houses were separated from Spain and constituted a province which celebrated its first chapter in 1425. Subsequently, the province grew to comprise eleven convents and four hospices. In the course of its history, the province produced four monasteries of nuns in Guimaraes, Beja, Lagos, and Tentugal.

The province of Portugal was relatively small, its houses, except for Lisbon and the college of Coimbra, undistinguished; it played no particular role in the general history of the Order. In spite of generous praise for its observance by the reforming generals, Nicholas Audet (1523-1562) and John Baptist Rossi (1562-1578), the province never achieved the common life. Nevertheless, it produced a generous share of individuals noted for holiness and intellectual gifts. Among persons known for holiness, mention might be made of Nuno Alvares Pereira, beatified in 1918;Stephen of the Purification (1571-1617),mystic; Louis of the Presentation ([dagger]1653), reformer; Mariana of the Purification (1623-1695), mystic; and Perpetua da luz (1684-1736), mystic.

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