Conceição, Apolinário da

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Franciscan lay brother and author; b. Lisbon, Portugal, July 23, 1692; d. probably in Brazil, not before 1759. Conceição went with his parents to Brazil where he became a lay brother in the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception of Rio de Janeiro. Despite the insistence of friends that he study for the priesthood, he was content to remain a lay brother, and endeavored to exalt that state through the most important of his published works, Pequenos na terra, grandes no céu.

At St. Anthony's Convent in Rio de Janeiro he began to collect biographies of Franciscan lay brothers noted for their saintly lives. He was encouraged by confreres to publish his collection, and was sent to Europe in 1724 to care for the interests of his province and to continue the collection. The first volume of 500 biographies was published in 1732. He spent a large part of his life in Lisbon devoted to research and publication. He journeyed to France, Spain, and Italy in search of material. During the years 1735, 1738, 1744, and 1754 he published a total of 2,350 brief biographies of lay brothers in the four-volume Pequenos na terra, grandes no céu. It is more a compilation than a personal and critical research study; its historical value is entirely dependent upon the accuracy of the authors consulted.

Apolinário published another work, Primazia seráfica (Lisbon 1733), concerning the Franciscans of Brazil. This is of more historical value despite the fact that its title is apologetical. He wrote also Claustro franciscano ereto no domínio da Coroa portuguesa (1740), Doze instruções para os que deixam o mundo (1740) Flor peregrina (1744), and a few other books. He left some unedited works, the most important of which is Epitome do que em breve summa contêm a Santa Província da Imaculada Conceção do Brasil (1730). Some of these writings are known only because the author mentioned them in the volumes of Pequenos na terra. His literary style reflects the exuberance of the epoch.

Bibliography: d. de freitas, Elenco biográfico (Petrópolis 1931).

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