NETO, Brás (?-1537/38?)
1st bishop of Cape Verde.
He was the son of Pedro Gonçalves of the Neto family of Salamanca, a Spanish nobleman who was granted favor for using his coat of arms and for passing on his lineage. His brother Simão Neto was alcayde of Abrantes. The creation of the diocese of Cape Verde dates from January 31, 1533. The royal ecclesiastical patronage decided to endow the recently created diocese with the revenue from the Cistercian monastery of S. Pedro das Águias, in the diocese of Lamego, which was aggregated under commendam that belonged to Brás Neto, who would yield it for that purpose. Brás Neto belonged to the Council of the Kingdom, and had previously been a high court judge, as well as ambassador in the Roman Curia. During his stay with the papacy, he was involved in the important negotiations of the reform of the priory of the Order of Christ in Tomar. His courtly background and diplomatic functions in Rome were decisive in his choice for bishop of Cape Verde by D. João III, and he was presented to D. Martinho of Portugal on May 20, 1532. He was then recommended to the king by a bull of Pope Clement VII on November 16, 1532 and confirmed by a brief on January 31, 1533. On September 12, 1534, D. João III wrote to the authorities of the island of Santiago so that they witness the procurator taking possession of the office and recognize him in temporal and spiritual affairs. He was sent by the bishop to take control of the dignitaries. However, he did not reside in the bishopric, as diplomatic tasks of the kingdom eventually superseded the ecclesiastical interests of Cape Verde. In 1537, Brás Neto was appointed royal emissary from the court of Baiona and was accompanied by Dr. Afonso Fernandes to resolve the Portuguese-French conflict concerning piracy carried out by French ships. The bishop-designate requested from Empress D. Isabel, wife of Carlos V, authorization to proceed freely to France, and soon afterwards to proceed to Fuenterrabia and Irun to continue the same inquiry. He must have died in the end of 1537 or beginning of 1538, because in February of 1538, D. Gonçalo Pinheiro, bishop of Safim and chief judge in the Casa da Suplicação, was named to replace him in the court.
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ALMEIDA, Fortunato de, História da Igreja em Portugal, nova ed.preparada e dirigida por Damião Peres, vol. II, Porto-Lisboa, Livraria Civilização, 1968, pp. 684-685.
PAIVA, José Pedro, Os Bispos de Portugal e do Império, 1495-1777, Coimbra, Imprensa da Universidade, 2006.
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.
SANTOS, Maria Emília Madeira; SOARES, Maria João, ?Igreja, Missionação e Sociedade?, História Geral de Cabo Verde, vol. II, coord. de Maria Emília Madeira Santos, Lisboa-Praia, IICT-INCCV, 1995, pp. 372, 381-382.
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