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Dias, Luis


DIAS, LUIS (d. 1542), Marrano messianic pretender, known as the "Messiah of Setúbal," after the seaport south of Lisbon where he was born. Dias was poor and uneducated and his notions of Judaism were confused and rudimentary. Nevertheless, he came to regard himself as a prophet and eventually announced himself as the Messiah. He acquired fame as a miracle worker and had a following of both Old and *New Christians in Setúbal, Lisbon, and other places. People meeting him kissed his hand and many sent him mystical letters. His activities, including the rumors that he circumcised the children of his followers, led to his first arrest by the Inquisition. After confessing, he was reconciled to the Church, assigned various penances, and released. When it was discovered that he had reverted to his previous activities he was rearrested by the Inquisition and eventually burned as a relapsed heretic in 1542, with 83 of his followers. Under his influence a government official Gil Vaz Bugalho became a secret Jew and even prepared a booklet on religious practice for Judaizers before his death at the stake in 1551.


J.L. D'Azevedo, Historia dos Christaõs Novos Portugueses (1921); idem, in: Arquivo Historico Portugues, 10 (1916), 442f.; J. Mendes dos Remedios, Os Judeus em Portugal, 2 (1928), 50f.; Roth, Marranos, index; A.Z. Aescoly, Ha-Tenu'ot ha-Meshiḥiyyot be-Yisrael, 1 (1956), 279, 412ff.

[Martin A. Cohen]

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