Evoramonte’s Mercy Commitment
The Commitment of Brotherhood of Misericordia, printed in Lisbon by Valentim Fernandes and Hermão Campos, the 20 days of December 1516.
The images represent the copy of the Commitment of Santa Casa da Misericordia of Evoramonte recently restored in the National Library of Portugal, with the support of the Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa, and that is one of the 10 copies left of the original edition of 1516 (*).
But, after all, what is the Commitment and what is its historical value and interest?
Let us begin by recalling that it was the widowed queen, D. Leonor of Lancaster (1458-1525), wife of King João II (King between 1481-1495), who founded in Lisbon in 1498 the Brotherhood of Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia and that after this real initiative other foundations were appearing in the country, causing King D. Manuel I to have a “commitment” to the “good governance” of the confraternities published in 1516.
As can be read in the prologue to the Commitment, printed in 1516, the King highlights the purpose of the brotherhood fulfilling the works of misericordia, both spiritual and corporeal. And there are seven, first the spiritual ones: “to teach the simple, to give good advice to those who ask them, to punish with charity those who err, to comfort the sad and disconsolate, to forgive those who have erred, to suffer the injuries with patience, and lastly to pray To God for the living and for the dead. “Then the seven bodily works:” to redeem the captives and to visit the prisoners, to heal the sick, to cover the naked, to feed the hungry, to give drink to those who thirst, to give to the pilgrims and the poor, to bury the dead.”
Thus, in the fifth centenary of its publication, the Commitment leaves to its readers today a reflection on the topicality of the purposes then enunciated with a view to a more humane and solidary society.
It remains to be emphasized how King D. Manuel I was able to use the press, which was at that time (with the first Portuguese letters imprints after ca. 1488), for the “good governance” not only of the Misericordias, but also of the country.
After being restored, in time to celebrate its 500 years ago , the copy that is seen in the images (whose reduced number of surviving copies testifies well to its value and historical interest), we are certain that the Misericordia of Evoramonte will keep it as it deserves, so as to ensure that it remains a living memory of its foundational commitment.
Lisbon, November 2016
Helga Maria Justa
Center for Historical Studies / CHAM – Universidade Nova de Lisboa
[Translation by SCME]
(*) Evoramonte’s Commitment corresponds to a variant in the print, because the initials of the folio are already printed in black ink instead of red ink, as is the case with the copy of the Historical Archive of Santa Casa of Misericórdia of Lisbon.
The Evoramonte’s Mercy, worked in the beginning, as a Hospital, inside of the castle’s walls, practicing deliveries, medical appointments and surgeries were made.
The hospital instruments, at the time, are still at Mercy, and are occasionally exposed to the public.
Evoramonte’s Mercy Church
Located in the interior of the Evoramonte’s Castle walls, the Church of Mercy was raise in the end of . XV century, beginning of . XVI century, featuring Gothic-Manueline features.
In its inside it’s possible to observe tile panels dated from the. XVIII century which represents the Holy construction.
Also there’s an Estremoz’s marble pulpit, and the main altar in gilded, presumable, of the end of Baroque period, Which Involves the image of Our Lady of the Visitation (Visitation Madonna).
The Evoramonte’s Mercy keeps on its treasure, alfaias and canonicals dated from the . XVI century.