The Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Portugal

  • A. J. R. Russell-Wood


The Brotherhood of Our Lady, Mother of God, Virgin Mary of Mercy was dedicated on 15 August 1498 in a chapel of the cathedral of Lisbon. The traditional founders were a group of laymen and a Trinitarian friar. The new brotherhood was approved by the Regent Dona Leonor and confirmed by her brother, the King Dom Manuel I. Statutes were drawn up, and the initial membership was limited to fifty nobles and fifty plebeians. The avowed object of the brotherhood was to afford spiritual and material aid to all in need. From this modest origin the brotherhood, popularly known as the Santa Casa da Misericórdia or simply the Santa Casa, spread throughout the Portuguese-speaking world. Branches ranged from Nagasaki in Japan to Ouro Prêto in the interior of Brazil. The story of the Misericórdia is comprehensible only against the background of the older story of charitable assistance in Europe.


Thirteenth Century Fifteenth Century Twelfth Century Mutual Assistance Charitable Activity 
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Copyright information

© A. J. R. Russell-Wood 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. R. Russell-Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.St Antony’s CollegeOxfordUK

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