S. BOAVENTURA, D. Fr. Cristóvão de (1730-1798)
19th bishop of Cape Verde.
He was born in Guimarães on November 16, 1730 and entered the Franciscan order. He was presented as bishop of Cape Verde on April 30, 1784 and confirmed on February 14, 1785; he received consecration on May 1 of the same year in the church of S. Francisco. He arrived at the diocese in 1786. He died in April of 1798. He reformed the statutes of the diocesan chapter, elaborated by D. Fr. Lourenço Garro. The bishop secured residence in S. Nicolau and argued that the seat of the cathedral should be transferred to this island, as the capital in Ribeira Grande was nothing more for him than a ?heap of ruins, similar to that seen in this court after the earthquake.? Even when he was named to the interim government in Santiago, he refused to leave S. Nicolau. He founded schools of Latin grammar and moral theology in S. Nicolau, where he personally taught and also rebuilt the parish church of Ribeira da Prata, which was close to where the Episcopal palace was built, in addition to having completed several public works on the island, including a well in the referred town and the access road, along with works in the port of Preguiça. As for the clergy, he informed that there wasn?t a single Portuguese priest, and as for the local priests, he considered them to be ?a group of ignoramuses, drunks, concubinaries and full of children,? ?wolves to their sheep,? which is why he says he conferred orders on 16 students ?with very little conscience,? besides having refused to confer holy orders on many others. He confessed that the bishopric had reached its ?last agony,? but even so he suspended some local priests. Since no clergy came from outside the islands and the ones that existed weren?t good enough, he sent eight ordinands whom he considered more capable to be educated in the colleges of Pina Manique, so that later they could continue their education in the University of Coimbra and return to Cape Verde. The bishop was entrusted by Martinho de Melo e Castro with the settlement of the island of S. Vicente, but he failed to implement the intent of a local leader of the island of Fogo, João Carlos Fonseca, because he thought the task would only be successful with the whites of the kingdom. During the famine of 1792, he sent a ship at his expense to Guinea to look for corn, and he also sent a vessel to North America with the same purpose. He was responsible for the construction of several new churches, including Santo António in Pombas, São João Baptista in the port of the Carvoeiros, Santo Crucifixo in Coculi and S. Pedro Apóstolo in Chã de Igreja da Garça. D. Fr. Cristóvão died in 1798 and was buried near the parochial church of Ribeira Brava.
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BARCELLOS, Christiano José de Sena, Subsídios para a História de Cabo Verde e Guiné, tomo III, parte V, Lisboa, Academia Real das Ciências de Lisboa, 1905.
MARQUES, João Francisco, A Arquidiocese de Braga na Evangelização do Além-Mar, Braga, Comissão arquidiocesana de Braga das Comemorações dos 5 séculos de Evangelização e Encontro de Culturas; Faculdade de Teologia ? Braga (Universidade Católica Portuguesa); Cabido da Sé Metropolitana e Primacial de Braga, pp. 321-323.
REMA, Henrique Pinto, ?Diocese de Cabo Verde?, História Religiosa de Portugal, dir. de Carlos Azevedo, Lisboa, Círculo de Leitores, 2001, vol. II, A-C, pp. 280-284.
Author: Maria João Soares
Translated by: John Starkey