CRUZ, D. Francisco da (? - c.1571)
3rd bishop of Cape Verde.
He was born in Vila Viçosa; he professed in 1528 as a regular canon of Saint Augustine; in 1545, already with advanced age, he obtained the dignity of bishop of Ópia, coadjutor of the one of Coimbra; he was part of the courtly circle of D. João III, a factor that must have been influential in his choice as bishop. Fortunato de Almeida informs that he was presented in 1547 to the Roman Curia. The date of his confirmation in Rome and the time of his arrival in Cape Verde are both unknown, although some circumstantial evidence suggests that the latter occurred circa 1551. His bishopric of approximately 20 years is characterized by a great dynamism that transpired due to the conjunction of the consequences of the Council of Trent and the good economy that Cape Verde enjoyed as one of the main slave trading posts of the Atlantic Ocean. Because the first bishop of Cape Verde never lived there, and his predecessor, D. João Parvi, had a ministry in loco of little more than a year, D. Francisco da Cruz was one of the most active administrators of the diocese of Cape Verde. The bishop was accompanied by a considerable delegation of Portuguese clergymen. The most visible acts of the bishopric were the construction of the church of Misericórdia and the founding of the respective brotherhood and hospital, of which this bishop became patron, and the start of the construction, circa 1560, of the massive Episcopal complex (cathedral, palace and prison) on the left side of the city in the modest neighborhood of S. Sebastião. The plan designed for the cathedral was truly monumental for the small space of the city. This grandiose building of three naves, similar to the cathedral of Angra do Heroísmo, was built with materials imported from the kingdom and required substantial financial resources, which is why the bishop obtained from the kingdom considerable financing through the treasury of Santiago. The church of Misericórdia and the cathedral are interlinked, given that at the time of the death of D. Francisco, the construction of the cathedral and the Episcopal palace was halted. For that reason, the church of Misericórdia was the cathedral church until the end of the 17th century when construction was completed by D. Fr. Vitoriano Portuense. The residents helped with generous contributions for the construction of the church of Misericórdia, but above all for the brotherhood, endowed with countless blessings of the soul. The inhabitants of Santiago argued that the cathedral was located outside the noble part of the city and that they would have to go far to hear the divine offices, and its construction required excessive expenditures ?for being constructed with too much grandiosity.? The work stopped after the death of the bishop and was suspended by royal decision in 1592 with the argument that the corsairs that had attacked Ribeira Grande used the high walls for fortification. In periods of financial abundance in the local trade, the bishop didn?t have great difficulties in seeing an increase in the funding of the Church and the clergy in general. Between 1568 and 1572, the diocese received about 20 alvarás [privileges] that increased the allowances of several dignities and offices of the cathedral, preachers from Vila da Praia and Vila de S. Filipe in Fogo, in addition to all 10 vicars and curate chaplains of the island of Santiago, whose churches also began to be endowed with autonomous amounts for their respective maintenance and construction (fabrica ecclesiæ). By the orders of 1569 and 1571, these payments should precede all other expenses of the treasury. D. Francisco da Cruz was also responsible for the growth of clerical members of the cathedral, creating several offices in the cathedral, such as porter, coadjutor, chapel master, organist, chaplains of the choir and choir boys, significantly burdening the payroll of the ecclesiastics. This bishopric coincided with the implementation in Portugal of the decrees of the Council of Trent, which soon were transposed in 1570 for the diocese of Cape Verde with the decrees of the creation of the seminary and the placement of clergy, who should be subject to examination by the diocesan synod and annual visitations. Of these decrees, only the second would have full local implementation, since the seminar would only open in 1866 in S. Nicolau and the visitations were dependant on the existence of regular maritime links among the islands. This episcopate corresponds to the most effective phase of the formation and implementation of the hierarchy and physical structures of the Church of the diocese of Cape Verde, especially in Santiago, as the ecclesiastical body at the time was very cohesive and cooperative with the bishop. D. Francisco died circa 1571 and was buried in the church of the Misericórdia close to the altar of S. Francisco. D. Francisco?s legend would correspond to the high status that he acquired in local history, and the epithets ?Saint? and ?Venerable? were bestowed on him because when he was very old, he still taught doctrine to the children and theology to the wise. The legend has some attributes of holiness, since when his grave was opened twenty years later, the body was found incorrupt and emanating a soft aroma. On the bishop?s epitaph, the simple sentence reads that in Cape Verde ?he performed notable deeds, such that even the untamed animals obeyed him.?
Anónimo (1784), Notícia Corográfica e Cronológica do Bispado de Cabo Verde, ? edição e notas de António Carreira, Lisboa, Instituto Caboverdeano do Livro, 1985.
ALMEIDA, Fortunato de, História da Igreja em Portugal, nova ed.preparada e dirigida por Damião Peres, vol. II, Porto-Lisboa, Livraria Civilização, 1968, pp. 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. 384-390.
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