Manuel da Nóbrega

Last updated
Manuel da Nóbrega
Nobrega2.jpg
Father Manuel da Nóbrega on a commemorative Portuguese stamp of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of São Paulo.
BornOctober 18, 1517
DiedOctober 18, 1570(1570-10-18) (aged 53)
Nationality Portuguese
Occupation Jesuit priest, missionary
Known forFirst Provincial of the Society of Jesus in the colony of Brazil.
Founder of Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Statue of Manuel da Nobrega in front of the Chapel of Our Lady of Help, Salvador Padresalvador.jpg
Statue of Manuel da Nóbrega in front of the Chapel of Our Lady of Help, Salvador

Manuel da Nóbrega (old spelling Manoel da Nóbrega) (18 October 1517 – 18 October 1570) was a Portuguese Jesuit priest and first Provincial of the Society of Jesus in colonial Brazil. Together with José de Anchieta, he was very influential in the early history of Brazil and participated in the founding of several cities, such as Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo, as well as many Jesuit colleges and seminaries.

Contents

Early life

Nóbrega was born on October 18, 1517, in Sanfins do Douro, Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal, to an important family; his father was Baltasar da Nóbrega, a prominent judge of justice. Manuel da Nobrega studied humanities at Porto and Salamanca, Spain and at the University of Coimbra, where he obtained his baccalaureate in canon law and philosophy in 1541. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1544 and, after being ordained, carried out pastoral work in the regions of Entre-Douro-e-Minho and Beira.

Missionary in Brazil

In 1549, he joined the naval fleet of the first Portuguese Governor-General Tomé de Sousa (1502–1579) following a request by King John III of Portugal to the Society of Jesus to start the missionary work of converting the Amerindians, who were heathen in the eyes of the Catholic Church, of building churches and religious seminars, and of educating the colonists.

Nóbrega arrived in the captaincy of Bahia on March 29, 1549, accompanied by five other Jesuits. The Governor-General's first actions were to found the colonial capital city of Salvador (The Savior, in Portuguese) and to celebrate its first Mass in 1549.

Nóbrega and his colleagues tried to fulfill their mission but faced many difficulties because the colonists mistreated and tried to enslave the Indians. He soon was fiercely engaged in the defense of the Indians, which led to serious clashes with inhabitants and authorities of the new colony, alike, including the first Governor-General and the one who succeeded him, Duarte da Costa.

To gain authority in his fight against the colonists, Nóbrega asked the King to establish an episcopacy in Brazil, which was granted on February 25, 1551. The first Bishop of Brazil, Dom Pedro Fernandes Sardinha took office on June 22, 1552. By then, Nóbrega had already created the Jesuit College of Salvador. Nóbrega was then nominated the first Provincial of the Society of Jesus in the New World, a post that he held until 1559. However, Dom Sardinha was killed and eaten by hostile Indians after a shipwreck, changing Nóbrega's mind about the Indian mission.

Sensing the difficulties of converting adult Indians to Christianity, Nóbrega determined that the Jesuits' efforts should concentrate on the teaching of children, who were more pliable. The Jesuits started to create elementary schools for teaching Portuguese and Latin, basic literacy, and religion. The Jesuits discovered that singing was a very effective way of winning the attention of the students, and Nóbrega was one of the pioneers in using music in education in Brazil. To help the evangelization of children, Nóbrega had the idea of bringing in seven orphan children to Brazil and making them learn Tupi, the language of the Indians, so that they would be bilingual and act as translators. The children would often go with the Jesuits on foot to faraway places and were protected and cherished by the Indians. Several of the children became Jesuit priests, too.

In 1552, Nóbrega accompanied again Tomé de Sousa to the captaincy of São Vicente, in the present-day southern state of São Paulo. There, he was joined by another group of Jesuits, who had arrived with José de Anchieta, then a young novice, who travelled with Mem de Sá, the third Governor-General sent by the Crown. Nóbrega determined as the new mission of the small band of missionaries to found villages (aldeamentos) on the high plateau just above the coastline to better pursue their work of catechesis and education of the Indians. Thus, on January 25, 1554, Nóbrega and Anchieta celebrated the first mass in the new and modest Jesuit College of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, in honor of Saint Paul's day of conversion to Christianity. The tiny settlement around this Jesuit school was to become one of the largest metropoles of the world, São Paulo.

Missionary practice

Nóbrega and his men began catechizing and baptizing the natives upon their arrival in Brazil. One of the early encounters with the heathens was when Nóbrega and his men tried to stop preparations for a cannibal feast and the natives rose against the Christians. The Governor's militia helped to defend the missionaries against the native uprising.

Busy building chapels and schools, the missionaries boasted of the high rate of conversion of the natives. The Jesuits had begun teaching prayers to the natives as well as teaching them how to write and sing. According to a report written by Nóbrega, 500 natives had been baptized within the first five months of the arrival of the Jesuits, and many more were catechumens. [1]

Portuguese colonies in Brazil, like many other colonies in the Americas, had problems of slavery and concubinage being common among the new settlers. Nóbrega was concerned that the Portuguese settlers were not good examples. Nóbrega was unable to limit slavery among the Portuguese, so he chose separation instead. He moved toward the physical separation of the natives and the Portuguese to limit their contact with corrupt surroundings and focused on reducing the Jesuits’ reliance on support from the Portuguese crown. [2]

Nóbrega was encouraged that many natives had converted to Christianity despite being mistreated by the Europeans. The Brazilian sugar plantation colony, for example, was founded on the extensive use of Indian labor. Although this stage in the development of the Brazilian economy was temporary, the Portuguese eventually began using African slave labor, it had long-lasting effects on the morale of the native people. The Portuguese had created a society in which the natives had to live by Portuguese rules and conform to new modes of behavior, defined by European social and racial categories. [3]

Descriptions of natives

Nobrega’s Diálogo sobre a Conversão do Gentio uses the point of view of two Portuguese settlers to describe the native people of Brazil. The dialogue between the men provides insight into some of the characterizations of the native population.

Gonçalo Álvares, a lay person preaching to the natives, describes them in the opening lines as "those beasts." He dehumanizes the natives and, at the same time, questions their capacity to understand and accept Christianity. Mateus Nogueira, his companion, agrees and upholds that characterization by stating that those natives are worse than all others in the sense that they do not grasp Christianity. That description is a reflection of Nóbrega’s frustration with the native population.

Later, the two characters discuss the role of a Christian among a native population. Gonçalo questions their goal, and Nogueira clearly states that it is charity and love of God and of neighbor. That last statement places the native peoples, as human beings, among the neighbors whom Christians, including the Portuguese settlers, must love.

Nóbrega questions the importance of converting the natives. On one hand, he is unsure whether they are capable of fully grasping the concept of Christianity, especially with the language barrier. On the other hand, as a Christian and as a Jesuit, he understands his stance must be that of a kind, understanding teacher. [4]

War and expansion

The exploitation and massacres of Indian villages by the Portuguese colonists continued, despite the pacification efforts of Nóbrega. The Tamoio and Tupiniquim tribes, who lived along the Brazilian coast from the present-day states of Espírito Santo to Paraná, were most affected. Rebelling, they formed a warring tribal alliance, which became the Tamoio Confederation (Confederação dos Tamoios, in Portuguese), and started attacks on the villages founded by the colonists. São Paulo was attacked several times, but the Portuguese resisted.

Hard pressed, Nóbrega tried to make a peace treaty with the Confederation, sensing that all their efforts and the Portuguese colonization were in great danger. Under considerable duress and several threats of being killed and eaten by the Indians, Nóbrega and Anchieta stayed for a time in Iperoig (present-day Ubatuba in the northern coast of São Paulo), in conference with the tribal chieftains, until Nóbrega was able to achieve a temporary peace. Anchieta's command of Tupi, the language spoken by most of the Indians (of which he had compiled a vocabulary and a grammar, was extremely useful to Nóbrega, who had no such ability.

The arrival of a French invasion force in 1555, in the Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro (the so-called France Antarctique episode), however, tipped the balance again since the Indians saw an opportunity to rally the Frenchmen's help to vanquish the Portuguese. Thus, Nóbrega had no alternative other than bless and support the punitive expeditions sent by the third Governor-General from Portugal, Mem de Sá, in 1560 and by his nephew, Estácio de Sá, in 1565. The French colonists were defeated and expelled, and their Indian allies were reduced to submission.

After the expulsion of the French invaders, Nóbrega founded a new Jesuit College in Rio, the College of Saint Vincent, and was nominated its rector (dean). In 1570 he was again nominated Brazilian Provincial of the Jesuit Order, but he died before taking office, on October 18, 1570, the very day he was completing 53 years of age. Seven years later, the Jesuit Provincialship of Brazil was accepted by Anchieta, his great pupil and friend.

See also

Related Research Articles

The Tupi people were one of the most numerous peoples indigenous to Brazil, before colonisation. Scholars believe that while they first settled in the Amazon rainforest, from about 2,900 years ago the Tupi started to migrate southward and gradually occupied the Atlantic coast of Southeast Brazil.

Colonial Brazil Portuguese 1500-1822/1825 possession in South America

Colonial Brazil comprises the period from 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, until 1815, when Brazil was elevated to a kingdom in union with Portugal as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. During the early 300 years of Brazilian colonial history, the economic exploitation of the territory was based first on brazilwood extraction, which gave the territory its name; sugar production ; and finally on gold and diamond mining. Slaves, especially those brought from Africa, provided most of the work force of the Brazilian export economy after a brief period of Indian slavery to cut brazilwood.

Tupi language

Old Tupi or classical Tupi is an extinct Tupian language which was spoken by the aboriginal Tupi people of Brazil, mostly those who inhabited coastal regions in South and Southeast Brazil. It belongs to the Tupi–Guarani language family, and has a written history spanning the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. In the early colonial period, Tupi was used as a lingua franca throughout Brazil by Europeans and aboriginal Americans, and had literary usage, but it was later suppressed almost to extinction, leaving only one modern descendant with an appreciable number of speakers, Nheengatu.

Mem de Sá was a Governor-General of the Portuguese colony of Brazil from 1557-1572. He was born in Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal, around 1500, the year of discovery of Brazil by a naval fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral.

Bandeirantes

The Bandeirantes, literally "flag-carriers", were explorers, adventurers, slavers, and fortune hunters in early Colonial Brazil. They led expeditions carrying the Portuguese flag, the bandeira, claiming, by planting the flag, new lands for the Crown of Portugal. They are largely responsible for Brazil's great expansion westward, far beyond the Tordesillas Line of 1494, by which the Pope divided the new continent into a western, Castilian section, and an eastern, Portuguese section.

São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga

São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga was the village that developed as São Paulo, Brazil in the region known as Campos de Piratininga. It was founded as a religious mission and a Jesuit Royal College by priests José de Anchieta and Manuel da Nóbrega on January 25, 1554. The village was initially populated by Portuguese colonists and two tribes of the Guaianás Amerindians. Later, São Paulo was the base of the Bandeiras, which was the great colonial expansion of the 17th century into the interior of the territory.

France Antarctique

France Antarctique was a French colony south of the Equator, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which existed between 1555 and 1567, and had control over the coast from Rio de Janeiro to Cabo Frio. The colony quickly became a haven for the Huguenots, and was ultimately destroyed by the Portuguese in 1567.

Joseph of Anchieta 16th century Spanish Jesuit missionary and botanist in Brazil

Saint José de Anchieta y Díaz de Clavijo, S.J. was a Spanish Jesuit missionary to the Portuguese colony of Brazil in the second half of the 16th century. A highly influential figure in Brazil's history in the first century after its European discovery, Anchieta was one of the founders of São Paulo in 1554 and of Rio de Janeiro in 1565. He is the first playwright, the first grammarian and the first poet born in the Canary Islands, and the father of Brazilian literature. Anchieta was also involved in the religious instruction and conversion to the Catholic faith of the Indian population. His efforts along with those of another Jesuit missionary, Manuel da Nóbrega, at Indian pacification were crucial to the establishment of stable colonial settlements in the colony.

Ubatuba municipality in Southeast, Brazil

Ubatuba is a Brazilian municipality, located on the southeast coast, in the state of São Paulo. It is part of the Metropolitan Region of Vale do Paraíba e Litoral Norte. The population is 86,392 in an area of 723.88 km².

Inácio de Azevedo Portuguese missionary

Blessed Inácio de Azevedo (1526–1570) was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of Brazil, beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Estácio de Sá

Estácio de Sá was a Portuguese soldier and officer. Sá travelled to the colony of Brazil on the orders of the Portuguese crown to wage war on the French colonists commanded by Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon. These French colonists had established themselves in 1555 at Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, in a settlement known as France Antarctique. He was the founder of Rio de Janeiro, now the second largest city in Brazil.

Cunhambebe Chieftain of the Tupinambá tribe

Cunhambebe was an aboriginal Indian chieftain of the Tupinambá tribe, which dominated the region between present-day Cabo Frio and Bertioga. He lived in a village in Iperoig.

De Gestis Meni de Saa, or De gestis Mendi de Saa, is a poem written about 1560 by José de Anchieta, a 16th-century Spanish Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, who was called the "Apostle of Brazil." The poem describes the "heroic deeds" of the Portuguese governor Mem de Sá and his soldiers "fighting in the immense wilderness" and against the French Protestants.

Brás Cubas

Brás Cubas was a Portuguese nobleman, explorer and the founder of the village of Santos. The son of João Pires Cubas and Isabel Nunes, he was twice governor of the Captaincy of São Vicente.

The Caetés (Kaeté) were an indigenous people of Brazil, linguistically belonging to the Tupi people.

Pátio do Colégio

Pátio do Colégio is the name given to the historical Jesuit church and school in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The name is also used to refer to the square in front of the church. The Pátio do Colégio marks the site where the city was founded in 1554.

This article details the history of the Catholic Church in Brazil from the colonial era until the modern era. The Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people. Catholicism is the country's predominant faith. Brazil has the world's largest Catholic population.

Casa de Portugal in São Paulo

The Casa de Portugal is an association of Portuguese immigrants in São Paulo created in 1935.

Quatrocentão

Quatrocentão is a term used to designate members of elite families descendant from the early settlers and explorers of São Paulo. This term was first used in the early 20th century, in the past they were referred to as primeiros povoadores or nobreza da terra. These families had occupied important positions as governors, military commanders, aldermen and explorers of early colonial South America. They received large land grants from the Portuguese Crown and originated mostly in Portugal and Spain, but some in Flanders and other places in Europe. A portion of the original settlers were noblemen of the Royal House of Portugal. Under the rule of the Habsburgs and the Iberian Union, they were joined by Spanish families, some also of noble origin. The earliest of these settlers married descendants of the Amerindian Chief of Piratininga, Martim Afonso Tibiriçá, and after intermarried frequently among the families in the Genealogia Paulistana, forming an endogamous group. They were first listed in a genealogical study in the 1700s by Pedro Taques de Almeida Paes Leme and last listed in the classical genealogical work Genealogia Paulistana, published in 1905.

Largo da Batata

Largo da Batata is a public square located in the district of Pinheiros, in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. It is located at the confluence of Brigadeiro Faria Lima Avenue and the streets Pinheiros, Teodoro Sampaio, Cardeal Arcoverde, Baltazar Carrasco, Martim Carrasco, Chopin Tavares de Lima and Fernão Dias.

References

  1. Helen G. Dominian, Apostle of Brazil, New York: Exposition Press, 1958.
  2. Thomas Cohen, "'Who is My Neighbor?' The Missionary Ideals of Manuel da Nobrega", Jesuit Encounters in the New World: Jesuit Chroniclers, Geographers, Educators and Missionaries in the Americas, 1549-1767. Ed. Joseph A. Gagliano, and Charles E. Ronan, S.J., Instituto Storico S.I.: Roma, 1997.
  3. Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-1835, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  4. Manuel da Nobrega, Dialogo sobre a Conversao do Gentio, Ed. Salvio M. Soares. Vol. MetaLibri2006, v1.0p.

Bibliography

Primary sources

Nóbrega, Manuel da. Diálogo sobre a conversão do gentio. Ed. Soares, Sálvio M. Vol. MetaLibri 2006, v.1.0p.

Nóbrega, Manuel da, S.J., and Leit, Serafim. Cartas. Coimbra Universidade, 1955.

Secondary sources

Cohen, Thomas. “’Who is My Neighbor?’ The Missionary Ideals of Manuel da Nóbrega.” Jesuit Encounters in the New World: Jesuit Chroniclers, Geographers, Educators and Missionaries in the Americas, 1549-1767. Ed. Gagliano, Joseph A., Ronan, Charles E., S.J. Instituto Storico S.I.: Roma, 1997.

Dominan, Helen G. Apostle of Brazil. New York: Exposition Press, 1958.

Domingues, Beatriz Helena. “Comparing Colonial Cultural experiences: Religious Syncretism in Brazil, Mexico and North America.” Revista Electrônica de História do Brasil. V.2. n. 2. Jul/Dec 1998.

Schwartz, Stuart B. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-1835. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.