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The Treasure of São Roque: A Look at the Counter-Reformation

The Treasure of São Roque: A Look at the Counter-Reformation

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“the reading of this text provides a dispassionate historical-critical view of the cult of relics, as it was understood and rejected by the Protestant Reformers and the contrary understanding defended by the Catholic Church at the height of the Counter-Reformation, in that the Society of Jesus played a militant role in the defense of its cult, as well as in its dissemination.”

António Meira Henriques, from the Preface to the Portuguese version

The Treasury of São Roque: a look at the Counter-Reformation constitutes the most complete historical study ever carried out on the set of relics and reliquaries of the Church of São Roque. The work becomes fundamental for understanding the origin of the relics donated to the Society of Jesus, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, emphasizing in particular the large donation of D. João de Borja (1533-1606), son of São Francisco de Borja, built in 1587, which, due to its grandeur, would forever distinguish the first Jesuit church in Portugal. Any subsequent work on this subject should take into account this source of scholarship, rigorously elaborated in 1932 by William Telfer, an English scholar at the University of Cambridge, edited by the Church Historical Society, in London, in the same year.

The importance of this work led Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa to seriously consider its translation into Portuguese, having been entrusted with the task of translating the poet Fernando Pessoa, in 1933. However, the death of the poet and translator in 1935 frustrated this expectation . There followed an eight-decade long silence in which it remained accessible only to rare specialists. In 2017, the classic work by William Telfer was finally published in Portuguese, now available to those interested in the precious collection of reliquaries in the custody of the Misericórdia de Lisboa.

Authors: William Telfer, M.A.

Year of publication: 2017
Editor: SCML
ISBN: 9789898712646

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