BRANDÃO, Fr. Pedro (? -1606)
4th bishop of Cape Verde.
He was a Carmelite; he held a licentiate degree in theology and was a presbyter in Lisbon. He also belonged to the King?s Council. He was confirmed in consistory on August 8th, 1588 and consecrated in the same year in the convent of Carmo, moving shortly after to the diocese. He received an increase of 200,000 reis (in addition to the 100,000 reis) to repair the facilities of the Episcopal palace. He was accompanied by family and other clergy, including Carmelite colleagues, and he also had permission to take a religious to read cases of conscience. Several offices and ecclesiastical dignities saw their allowances increase due to the bishop?s insistence. In addition, money was set aside for the maintenance and construction (fabrica ecclesiæ) of the cathedral and for the churches in the towns of Praia and S. Filipe on the island of Fogo. His pastoral practice was very unstable, as he had open conflicts with prominent local residents. This motivated his return to Lisbon circa 1593. He accused the residents of eating meat on solemn days and even of having public feasts which included meat dishes, in addition to offering meat to their slaves to eat during Lent, a custom which started ?after a terrible famine that occurred on the island.? He conveyed that the absolution in this injunction was reserved to the Episcopal, but that the penalty of 200 reis had always been easy to obtain, which is why the residents didn?t refrain from this practice. Among the offenders, he accused several New Christian rendeiros of being obstinate in this practice, a matter that he sent to the Holy Office for consideration. This accusation must not have pleased the members of the local society. However, it was the ?behavior and business practices? of D. Fr. Pedro Brandão that made him incompatible with the prominent local residents. He was accused of arming ships annually for Guinea, where he bought slaves to sell in Santiago. He had a private slaughterhouse, from which he sent hides to the island of Madeira to be sold. He was also accused of ordering the payment of fees from the visitors whose slaves confessed to eating meat, which caused great apprehension among the slaves during the confessions. He also charged a fee for every church visitation. The complaints were sent quickly from Santiago to the Council for Ecclesiastical Affairs, and from there they reached the governors of the kingdom. Likewise, he clashed with the captain-major of Santiago about the place where this royal official should sit in church on solemn days. In Lisbon, the bishop continued to trade and to manage the bishopric from a distance, namely through the presentation of trusted clergymen to the diocesan chapter or to the office of visitator, a right that the deputies at the Council for Ecclesiastical Affairs intended to take from him. D. Fr. Pedro Brandão exchanged letters with these trustworthy men, who informed him of the important events, about which he always gave his opinion. He was always consulted and his opinion heard on the most important subjects of the diocese. In the capital, he established an estate with the funds that he had accumulated through trade. Eventually the conflict deteriorated and the bishop?s return became impossible. In the court this subject was firmly handled: it was decided that D. Fr. Pedro Brandão would resign and that his case would serve as an example to other prelate overseas who incurred the same accusations, namely the bishop of S. Tomé, Fr. Gaspar Cão. News of the matter reached Rome, and Pope Clement VIII wrote D. Fr. Pedro Brandão a letter exhorting him to return to the diocese, but D. Fr. Pedro Brandão went against the Pope?s instructions. The bishop died in Lisbon in 1606 and was buried at the church of the convent of Carmo. The sorting of the beneficiary of his rich estate resulted in an enduring argument between the Crown and the apostolic collectorship, but it was one of his successors who would secure the rights to it, justice exercised in favor of the diocese of Cape Verde.
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Author: Maria João Soares
Translated by: John Starkey