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Nóbrega, Manuel da

NÓBREGA, MANUEL DA

Jesuit cofounder with the governor general of Portuguese authority in Brazil; b. Portugal, Oct. 18, 1517; d. Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 18, 1570. He received a degree in canon law at the University of Coimbra in 1541. He failed to win a competition for a teaching position and entered the Jesuits on Nov. 21, 1544. After serving various apostolic missions in Europe, he was appointed director of the Jesuits in America at the age of 31. He embarked for Brazil with five companions in the company of the first governor general, Tomé de Sousa. He landed there, according to tradition, carrying a cross, and his first statement to his European companions contains a sentence which is a program: "this land is our enterprise." He helped in the foundation of Salvador, capital of Bahia, and was one of the most efficient advisers of the governor. During the administration of the second governor, at odds with the first bishop, Nóbrega left Bahia for the south. He again became a principal figure in the councils of the third governor, Mere de Sá, who led Brazil for 15 years. He planned the foundation of São Paulo in 1554 and worked toward the foundation of Rio de Janeiro in 1565. He traveled as missionary and observer through all of the captaincies of Brazil, from Pernambuco to São Vicente. He was the first Jesuit superior and the first provincial of Brazil. After turning the province over to Luis da Grã, he remained superior of the southern captaincies of Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and São Vicente. He founded the Colégio de Rio de Janeiro in 1567 and was its first rector. He was appointed provincial for the second time but died before he could take over the position. He is buried in Bahia in the present cathedral, formerly the Jesuit church, beside Mem de Sá. He was an excellent priest and good administrator, and was called the "Father of the Province." Southey considered him the greatest political figure in colonial Brazil.

Bibliography: s. leite, História da Companhia de Jesús no Brasil, 10 v. (Lisbon-Rio de Janeiro 193850). r. southey, History of Brazil, 3 v. (London 181722).

[a. j. lacombe]

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