Lisbon: Society of Jesus House of Profession at Sao Roque, 1756. Hardcover. Bound manuscript in folio. [iii], 107ff. (noted in contemporary manuscript, with added recent pagination in pencil); elaborate and superbly-rendered half-page ink vignette illustration at the opening leaf. Contemporary vellum over heavy binder's boards, with a cat’s paw daubing; gilt morocco label at spine; edges mottled red. Fine, crisp manuscript written in red-brown inks, largely in one very neat hand, with occasional initial flourishes; at least three other hands present. Joints (especially upper) beginning to split, but cords strong and binding otherwise very sound.
A candid, revealing, and spirited history of a confraternity for burying the dead, attached to the house of profession of Sao Roque, the home church of the Society of Jesus in Portugal. As noted on the opening page, it was intended for internal use only ("We ask for this book not be seen or read"). Beginning with a general index, the history may be divided into two main sections: the first (through fol. 64r) covers the period between 1748 and 1756, and includes transcriptions of five letters written by various officials of the Order; the latter section is an accounting prepared by Father Francisco Marques, which contains a "list of all properties, interests, and money that had been taken into our Congregation of Our Lady of Doctrine, either by wills or donations, or by managing, since 1612 until the present, 1752" (fol. 64r). This latter compendium is preceded by an eight-page index. The history concludes with an appendix (fols. 98v. through 106v), written in a different ink and hand, which brings the narrative up to 1775 and the suppression of the Jesuit Order in Portugal.
As the title indicates, the writer places great emphasis on the often severe difficulties and persecutions suffered at Sao Roque ("violenta, injuriosa, e successiva perseguiçao, que sofreo constante") during the period between 1748 and 1756. Written by a member of the community, this record of a Jesuit burial confraternity may be viewed as a microhistory in a global context, offering detailed and intimate information about the Society of Jesus in Portugal, especially concerning its relationships with the community at large. Key matters discussed include property and accounting disputes, internecine strife, relations with legal and civil authorities, as well as the Roman leadership. Reference is made to the Society's trade via the mission system with Brazil, India, China, and Japan (importing textiles, exporting books, religious paraphernalia, clothing and other provisions).
Of special note, the appendix opens with the events of 1 November, 1755, "the huge and awful earthquake, which in order to punish us, the divine justice sent over this kingdom, and with greater impact and damage to this city of Lisbon, may be an object of its fair rage and well-deserved revenge" (fol. 98v). A substantial discussion of the aftermath, damage, and rebuilding efforts follows. The writer of the appendix concludes the history with a discussion of the later fate of the community following the suppression of the Jesuit Order, and its absorption by the Santa Casa de Misericordia, which took over the property. This is followed by a prayer that God “approve that the company and the congregations be honoured with your pity”. Another hand adds three more lines to the bottom of the last page, expressing a final poignant hope for the Society's return: “Now, we should continue in this book to sign and transfer to a new book according to the new rules that the congregation should have when God wants”.
Provenance: 19th-century inscription at top recto first leaf: “Este livro pertenciu a Fr. Manuel Rebello da Silva e pertence agora a Luiz Rebello da Silva”. Luis Augusto Rebelo da Silva (1822-1871) was a historian, politician, and writer; the manuscript was likely the gift of or inheritance from his uncle and teacher, Fr. Manuel Rebelo da Silva. Very Good+. Item #49121
Full title: Relaçao historica da violenta, injuriosa, e successiva perseguiçao, que sofreo constante, evenceo glorioza a santa nossa congregacao de Nossa Senhora da Doutrina, fabricada pelos Reverendos Padres da Comp.a desta Caza entas Professa de Sao Roque de Lisboa, pelo Tempo de nove annos desde ode 1748 a le ode 1756. [Additamento demais algumas circunstancias, que esquecerao nesta Historia; eque poderao lembrar para otempo futuro].