VALENTE, D. Fr. Pedro Jacinto (? -1774)
17th bishop of Cape Verde.
He was born in Santa Olaia on the outskirts of Évora and was coadjutor of the church of Santa Maria de Alcáçova in Évora; he was a friar of the Order of Christ. It took over five years for the Crown to convince an ecclesiastic to accept the bishopric of Cape Verde. D. Fr. Pedro was presented in 1752 and confirmed and consecrated in 1753; he arrived in the diocese on April 25, 1754. Just after his arrival and the celebration of the first solemn feast, there was a disagreement with the diocesan chapter. The syndic Custódio Correia de Matos informed the prelate of the great atmosphere of intimidation that was prevalent in Santiago, and shortly after, he was murdered (June of the same year). The bishop then abandoned the seat of the cathedral, and the episcopate would not return for twenty years, introducing a practice that lasted for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, until 1940 when the bishops returned to the residence outside Santiago. He justified the abandonment by affirming that he came to Cape Verde with the royal promise of changing the seat of the cathedral, and he had obtained the respective bull from Pope Benedict XIV. However, the marquis of Pombal never gave his approval to this papal document, given that he had been displeased with D. Fr. Pedro Jacinto Valente for having been absent from Santiago without his consent. The new bishop stayed in S. Nicolau for more than a year, and later resided in Santo Antão, where he remained until his death. From there he administered the diocese and the ecclesiastical court with some clergymen of his retinue that he had vested in the diocesan chapter, splitting the diocese in two, since the diocesan chapter, dominated by the local priests, remained in Santiago. He froze all new admissions to the diocesan chapter as well as ordinations in Santiago, having excommunicated and deprived the archidiaconate of his dignity. He accused the capitulars of maintaining concubines openly and of maintaining private armies, offenses that he wasn?t able to discourage. The diocesan chapter only made the bishop?s orders public when not opposed to them. In 1764, only two canons and the school master remained; the rift between bishop and diocesan chapter reached the point in which the cathedral and the city of Ribeira Grande were interdicted. D. Fr. Pedro Jacinto ordered the collection of all the silver of the miter and library, taking a significant portion with him, and he also gave an order to cease spending on the Episcopal palace, which ruined him even more. He focused his pastoral action on the Barlavento islands, where he built new churches, namely in Santo Antão where he erected a temple (similar to the cathedral but of smaller dimensions) in the town of Ribeira Grande. Also in Santo Antão, he built the small chapel of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França and the churches of Santo António in Tarrafal and Nossa Senhora da Piedade in Ribeira da Janela. In Boa Vista, he built the temple of São João Baptista in the settlements to the north, and in S. Nicolau, the church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa in Ribeira das Queimadas. He financed these constructions with pecuniary tributes and with labor that he imposed on the residents. He also forced them to contribute to the sustenance of the parish priests. He equally visited the islands of Maio, Brava and Fogo via an English vessel. In Santo Antão, he ordained some priests ?whom he thought might be corrupt, but he had no other remedy,? as he even saw the contingency of conferring holy orders on old slaves. He sent for some ordinands from Santiago, to whom he personally provided instruction, since no one wanted to accept the classes of moral theology and Latin grammar because the salaries were not paid. He thought that this wasn?t the typical life of a prelate, but rather a pilgrim without a house and with only the clothes on his back, moving ?from straw hut to straw hut.? The bishop made visitations to several churches in synod form, ordering to prohibit all the local customs, such as the reigning feasts and black brotherhoods. D. Fr. Pedro was in favor of transferring the funds of the islands to the islands of Santo Antão (the ecclesiastic and S. Nicolau, and the secular). He died in Santo Antão in 1774.
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Author: Maria João Soares
Translated by: John Starkey