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Lisboa, Cristóvão de


Missionary and natural historian of Brazil; b. Lisbon, Portugal, c. 1590; d. convent of St. Anthony of Curral, April 19, 1652. He was the son of Gaspar Gil Severim, executor-môr of Portugal, and the brother of the celebrated antiquarian Manoel Severim de Faria, chanter of the Cathedral of Évora. He joined the reformed Franciscan province of Piedade, and after four years transferred to the Province of St. Anthony. After ordination he became a noted literary figure and preacher and, after 1640, a favorite of King John IV. Frei Cristóvão held important positions in the Church and order, including that of first custos or vice provincial of the Franciscan vice province of MaranhãoPará in northern Brazil (162436). When the king divided Portuguese America into two independent states in 1621, he also ordered an ecclesiastical division. In lieu of a new bishop, Frei Cristóvão was sent there with quasi-episcopal authority, arriving with 18 friars, 5 of whom were Brazilians. He became the foremost champion of the rights of the indigenous peoples in the area, traveling extensively in both Maranhão and Pará. The difficulties of enforcing the humane aldeiamento laws were enormous: he succeeded partially in Maranhã, but not in Pará. He returned to Portugal in 1636 in broken health. In 1644 he was named Bishop of Angola, but he was never consecrated. Among his works are many printed sermons. While in Brazil he wrote and illustrated in color the "Historia dos animais e arvores do Maranhão," which was never published. The only copy is in the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino in Lisbon.

Bibliography: l. da fonseca, "Frei Cristóvão de Lisboa,O.F.M., Missionary and Natural Historian of Brazil," Americas 8 (195152): 289303. m. c. kiemen, The Indian Policy of Portugal in the Amazon Region, 16171693 (Washington 1954).

[m. c. kiemen]

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