Bl. Bartolomeu Fernandes dos Mártires OP

 

Archbishop of Braga, Portugal
(1514-1590)
Memorial : 16 July

He was born in Lisbon, Portugal, on 3 May 1514. He was named of the Martyrs after the Church of Our Lady of the Martyrs where he was baptized. He entered the Dominican Order in 1528 and made his perpetual profession on 20 November 1529. Having completed his philosophical and theological studies brilliantly, in 1538 he began teaching philosophy in the college of St Dominic of Lisbon, and then in 1540 theology in the college of Batalha for 11 years. At Évora he became the royal tutor and preacher.

In 1558 Queen Catherine of Portugal presented him as her candidate for the Archbishopric of Braga, and Pope Paul IV confirmed this appointment despite the reluctance of Bartolomeu himself. He accepted out of obedience to his provincial, Ven. Luis of Granada. In September 1559, he was consecrated in the church of St Dominic in Lisbon.

On 4 October 1559, he began his apostolic mission in his vast Archdiocese maintaining his austere life style and devoting himself to the good of his preists and people. The outstanding features of his ministry were his pastoral visits; his commitment to evangelization which led him to draft a Catechism of Christian doctrine and spiritual practices (15th edition in 1962); his deep care for the culture and holiness of the clergy which led him to set up schools of moral theology for them in many parts of the archdiocese; and his doctrinal writings. In all he produced about 32 literary works. Among them the Stimulus Pastorum (22 editions) deserves mention as still being valid. It was given to the Fathers of the First and Second Vatican Councils. From 1561 to 1563 he attended the Council of Trent, urging the reform of the Church from the highest dignitaries. His teaching and example had a noteworthy influence on the decisions taken. Pius IV and St Charles Borromeo, with whom he was friendly, often asked and followed his advice. To put the Council's directives into practice, the Archbishop organized a Diocesan Synod in 1564 and the Provincial Council of Braga in 1566. In 1571 he began building the seminary in Campo Vinha. After repeated requests to resign from his pastoral office, his resignation was accepted in 1582, when he retired to the Domenican convent of the Holy Cross in Viana do Castelo. He died there on 16 July 1590, recognized and acclaimed by the people with the title, Holy Archbishop, father of the poor and of the sick. His tomb is venerated in the old Domenican Church of Viana do Castelo.


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