MATERIAL: Hand-Written/Painted
TYPE: Documents (Loose)
ITEM ID: 5206
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Portuguese Document from Macao, China

DATE
Year: 1727
Decade: 1720s
Century: 18th (1701-1800)
Notes: January 5, 1727

A Portuguese document.

According to scholar Francisco Santos Silva, “This seems to be a letter (from 5th January 1727) from the brothers of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia (Holy House of Mercy, a very important charitable organization that still exists) of Macao to the brothers of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Goa.

It’s harder to tell the content from these images as the writing is pretty cramped, but it seems like a similar letter than the one from Damão in India (which was also from a Misericórdia). The Misericórdia of Macau is still there.

The history of the Macau Holy House of Mercy is tied up with that of the Territory of Macau itself, which was formerly under Portuguese administration and is now a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It should be borne in mind that the “Confraternity and Fraternity of the Macau Holy House of Mercy”, as it was originally called, was created shortly after Macau was founded, as a Portuguese settlement, such that the two are closely interwoven. In fact, the founder of the “Holy House”, Bishop D. Belchior Carneiro, was a key figure in early history of Macau, being linked with the founding of the first local political institution, the Senate, in 1583. Moreover, the Holy House of Mercy was created before the organ of local government itself, clearly attesting to how closely it is bound up with the origins of Macau.

D. Belchior Carneiro created the Holy House in 1569, only one year after his arrival in Macau. The creation of the Macau Holy House of Mercy forms part of a global movement which was born in late 15th century Portugal with the foundation of the Lisbon Brotherhood of the Holy House of Mercy. This was instituted by D. Leonor, who was then Regent of Portugal, on 15 August 1498, and was one of the most noteworthy features in the relief reforms begun by the queen in 1485.

D. Belchior left behind a structure that was fully operational but ruled by highly rudimentary regulations.

Today, the Holy House continues, of course, to be a vitally important institution of Macau’s Portuguese community. Most of its members are Roman-Catholic and local-born Portuguese.”