A recent acquisition recalls the dark times of the religious conflicts of the 17th century.
ThomĂĄs Aranha, SermĂŁo que pregou o Muito Reverendo Padre Presentado Frey Thomas Aranha da Ordem dos PrĂ©gadores, Lente de Theologia no Real Collegio de S. Thomas de Coimbra, na festa, que celebrou ao glorioso martyr S. Iorge seu padroeiro a nobilissima naĂ§aĂ” inglesa em S. Domingos de Lisboa no anno de 638 (Lisbon, ). RB.23.a.38272
This sermon was preached at Lisbon on St Georgeâs Day in 1638 to the community of English Catholic recusant exiles, âthese gentlemen who have lived among us for so many years, and every year celebrate their patron saintâ (fol. 12v). As a gesture of Anglo-Portuguese solidarity, he points out that in battle the Portuguese, like the English, used to invoke St George, unlike the Spaniards who called on St James (fol. 11v).
St George was of obvious appeal to the English. Of obvious relevance too was his status as a martyr at a time when Catholics were being martyred in England. Aranha says explicitly that England had once been as industrious and courageous in its faith, as those who still profess their Catholicism today (fols 11-12). Indeed, the English recusants in Portugal have made such sacrifices in being cut off from friends and family that they too may be called martyrs (fol. 13r). (This may not be as exaggerated as it sounds: a martyr is one who bears witness to his or her faith, not necessarily unto death.)
Eight of Fr ThomĂĄsâs sermons are recorded in the Tipografia portuguesa do sĂ©culo XVII: Letras A e B, pp. 130-32
Like many a preacher, he was also a poet. We have his poems on the occasion of the coronation of John IV.
Poesias compostas na Universidade de Coimbra na occasiaĂ” da felicissima, & milagrosa acclamacÌ§aĂ”, & coroaĂ§Ă„o d'el Rei nosso Senhor Dom IoaĂ” o quarto de Portugal, que se nĂŁo ofereceraĂ” no Certamen Poetico, que na dita Vniveridade ouve nem andĂŁo no livro dos seus aplausos. (Lisbon, 1645). 1560/808.(1.) [https://books.google.co.uk/books?vid=BL:A0021022066&redir_esc=y]]
King John won back Portuguese independence from the âPhilippine Dominationâ by Philips II-IV of Spain from 1580 to 1640. Aranha is not named in the book, but InnocĂȘncio Francisco da Silva in his dictionary of Portuguese biography gives him authorship.
His book of 1645 is a belated supplement to the poetic celebrations dedicated by the University of Coimbra to the new king:
Thus like many a Baroque author Fr ThomĂĄs wrote for the moment.
An indication of this little bookâs rarity is that A. F. Allison and D. M. Rogers didnât include it in their classic bibliography, The contemporary printed literature of the English Counter-Reformation between 1558 and 1640 : an annotated catalogue, Vol. 1, Works in languages other than English; with the collaboration of W. Lottes (Aldershot, 1989). RAR 230.242
Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Collections
Tipografia portuguesa do sĂ©culo XVII: Letras A e B (Lisbon, 1999), RAR 094.209469 LI.
InnocĂȘncio Francisco da Silva, Diccionario bibliographico portuguez, VII (Lisbon, 1872). HLR 011.269