Malagrida, Gabriel

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Missionary and preacher; b. Menaggio, Italy, Dec. 5, 1689; d. Lisbon, Sept. 21, 1761. He made his first studies in Como and Milan and joined the Society of Jesus in Genoa, Oct. 23, 1711. After having taught humanities in Nizza, Bastia, and Vercelli, he was sent to Portugal. In 1721 he left Lisbon for the missions of northern brazil. Malagrida was a teacher of theology and humanities, spiritual counselor in the colleges of the society, missionary among the native people, popular preacher in towns and villages from Bahia to Pará, and the founder of convents, seminaries, and retreat houses. He was a zealous apostle, though somewhat theatrical and very credulous, and he soon acquired the fame of a saint. In 1750 he went to Portugal to discuss with John V the affairs of the missions in Pará; he returned to Maranhão in 1751 as royal councilor for the Portuguese overseas possessions, entrusted with royal powers to conduct missions. Three years later he was again in Portugal, this time as confessor of Queen Mariana of Austria and spiritual guide of many noble men and women. When the earthquake of 1775 almost destroyed Lisbon, Malagrida wrote a book called Juizo da verdadeira causa do Terremoto (Lisbon 1756), which attributed the earthquake to God's punishment. This attracted the wrath of the powerful minister Pombal, more interested in the rebuilding of the city than in prayers and idle laments. Malagrida was exiled to Setúbal, where he continued to gather people together for Spiritual Exercises. In 1758 Malagrida was unjustly accused of having instigated an attempt on the life of Joseph I. He was put in jail, where he became quite insane. Nevertheless, the Marquis of Pombal, who disliked Malagrida because he had opposed his policy in regard to the missions, denounced the missionary to the Inquisition. Condemned as a heretic, Malagrida died at the stake in 1761, in one of the saddest episodes of the Portuguese Inquisition. The basis for his condemnation was taken from two books he had written after he was no longer mentally responsible: Life of St. Ann, Mother of Mary and Kingdom of the Antichrist. Many of Malagrida's letters are extant, and there is a vast bibliography on his trial by the Inquisition.

Bibliography: s. leite, História de Companhia de Jesús no Brasil, 10 v. (Lisbon 193850).

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