SANTO AGOSTINHO, D. Fr. Francisco de (? -1719)
13th bishop of Cape Verde.
He was born in Loures and entered the third Franciscan order; he was a master of moral theology and a preacher jubilado; he was chaplain-major in the armadas and minister in the convent of S. Francisco in Angola. He was consecrated in 1709 and arrived at the diocese in the same year. He was accompanied by a handful of Portuguese clergymen whom he placed in the highest offices of the diocesan chapter, namely as vicar-general and the coveted post of visitator to the Rivers of Guinea, which provided for swift earnings as a result of the slave trade. As soon as he arrived in Santiago, he was confronted with an uprising of emancipated men and criminals, known as the valiant of Julangue, against whom governor Gonçalo Lemos de Mascarenhas carried out an armed attack without great results, just as the massive excommunication that the bishop ordered against the rebels and the lords that provided refuge to them didn?t produce results, because that society no longer showed any apprehension toward the ecclesiastical censors. D. Fr. Francisco was responsible for the partial reconstruction of the Episcopal palace that his predecessor, D. Fr. Vitoriano Portuense, had decided to transform to build the seminary. He was also confronted with the dilapidation of the most precious patrimony of the miter, which the bishop had sent to be sold in Lisbon to finance the work on the cathedral. This impoverishment reached the parochial churches, most of which were in ruins and without enough clergymen for the parishes. The worst were on the Barlavento islands, which had been without spiritual guidance, with the exception of visitations, when they occurred. Additionally, the local clergy showed little respect for the hierarchy of the prelate, with parish priests and confessors exercising their functions without permission and without observing the ecclesiastical adjudications that had suspended them from those functions. The problem of the payment of allowances wasn?t even raised, since there were no local sources of funding due to the paralysis of the financial system and the spread of smuggling, which is why the clergy had to work hard, like any other slavocrat, to obtain sources of sustenance and income. D. Fr. Agostinho became known in the local history as the man that led the defense on the island of Santiago against the incursion of the French armada, led by General Jacques Cassard in May, 1712. Governor José Pinheiro of the council surrendered, and the bishop ordered the parishes to read a pastoral letter summoning all to assemble in the church of S. Salvador dos Picos to combat the invader. The bishop led the private armies of the slavocrats to march on the city, but the enemy dispersed, setting fire to all of the most important buildings of Ribeira Grande, including the churches, the Episcopal palace and the convent of S. Francisco. The Episcopal library was consumed by the fire, and the bishop lamented that a breviary had not remained to say mass. Without the Episcopal palace, the bishop withdrew to the property of the miter on the edge of the city, the estate of Trindade, which the prelates usually used as a residence for recovery. D. Fr. Francisco also became known for having prevented ?a civil war? in 1718 involving João Nunes Castanho, captain-major of Vila da Praia, who together with his magnates, namely some members of the diocesan chapter, intended to monopolize the trade of the popular port of Praia, excluding other slavocrat factions that were protected by governor Serafim Teixeira Sarmento de Sá. With the mediation of the bishop, an agreement was signed between João Nunes Castanho and the governor, putting an end to the unrest in Vila da Praia. The diocesan chapter was disaffected by the bishop, especially because he conferred few orders and no longer endorsed the readings of the grammar master. The capitulars considered the bishop not zealous enough, and renounced him for abandoning the cathedral and taking advantage of the residence of Trindade, where he died in May, 1719.
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SOARES, Maria João, ?A Igreja em tempo de mudança política, social e cultural?, História Geral de Cabo Verde, vol. III, coord. de Maria Emília Madeira Santos, Lisboa-Praia, IICT-INIPPC, 2002, pp. 365-375.
SOUSA, António Caetano de, Catálogo dos bispos das igrejas de Cabo Verde, S. Tomé e Angola in Colleçam dos documentos, estatutos e memórias da Academia real da História Portugueza que neste anno de 1722 se compuzerão e se imprimirão por ordem dos seus censores, Lisboa, Pascoal da Sylva, 1722.
Author:Maria João Soares
Translated by: John Starkey