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Diocese in Portugal; comprising 26 civil concelhos of the districts of Oporto and Aveiro; probably founded in the middle of the sixth century. At the third Council of Toledo (589) the Arian usurper Argiovito was deposed in favour of Constancio the rightful bishop. In 610 Bishop Argeberto assisted at the Council at Toledo, summoned by King Gundemar to sanction the metropolitan claims of Toledo. Bishop Ansiulfo was present at the Sixth Council of Toledo (638) and Bishop Flavio at the Tenth (656). Bishop Froarico attended the Third Council of Braga (675) and the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fifteenth Councils of Toledo (681, 683, and 688), and his successor Felix appeared at the Sixteenth Council (693). No other bishop is recorded under the Visigothic monarchy. After the Arab invasion Justus seems to have been the first bishop. Gomado was probably elected in 872, when King Affonso III won back the city. The names of only four other prelates have been preserved: Froarengo (906), Hermogio (912), Ordonho, and Diogo. Oporto fell again into Moorish hands, and on its recovery, Hugo became bishop (1114-1134-6). He secured exemption from the Archbishop of Braga. He greatly enlarged his diocese and the cathedral patrimony increased by the donations he secured; thus, in 1120, he received from D. Theresa jurisdiction over the City of Oporto with all the rents and dues thereof. John Peculiar was promoted to Braga (1138), his nephew, Pedro Rabaldis, succeeding at Oporto. Next came D. Pedro Pitoes (1145 to 1152 or 1155), D. Pedro Senior (d. 1172), and D. Fernão Martins (d. 1185). Martinho Pires instituted a chapter, was promoted to Braga, 1189 or 1190. Martinho Rodrigues ruled from 1191 to 1235. He quarrelled with the chapter over their share of the rents of the see. Later on, fresh disagreements arose in which King Sancho intervened against the bishop, who was deprived of his goods and had to flee, but was restored by the king when Innocent III espoused the bishop's cause. Another quarrel soon arouse between prelate and king, and the bishop was imprisoned; but he escaped and fled to Rome, and in 1209 the king, feeling the approach of death, made peace with him. His successor, Pedro Salvadores, figured prominently in the questions between the clergy and King Sancho II, who refused to ecclesiastics the right of purchasing or inheriting land. Portugal fell into anarchy, in which the clergy's rights were violated and their persons outraged, though they themselves were not guiltless. Finally, Pope Innocent IV committed the reform of abuses to Affonso, brother of Sancho, who lost his crown.

Under Bishop Julian (1247-60) the jurisdiction difficulty became aggravated. A settlement was effected at the Cortes of Leiria (1254), which the bishop refused to ratify, but he had to give way. When King Affonso III determined (1265) that all rights and properties usurped during the disorders of Sancho's reign should revert to the Crown, nearly all the bishops, including the Bishop of Oporto, then D. Vicente, protested; and seven went to Rome for relief, leaving Portugal under an interdict. When the king was dying, in 1278, he promised restitution. Vicente (d. 1296) was one of the negotiators of the Concordat of 1289 and the supplementary Accord of Eleven Articles. He was succeeded by Sancho Pires, who ruled until 1300. Geraldo Domingues resigned in 1308 to act as counsellor of the King's daughter Constanca, future Queen of Castile. Tredulo was bishop for two and a half years. The Minorite Frei Estevan was succeeded in 1313 by his nephew Fernando Ramires. Both uncle and nephew quarrelled with King Denis and left the realm.

Owing to the hostility of the citizens, Bishop Gomes lived mostly outside his diocese. When Pedro Affonso became bishop in 1343, he had a quarrel over jurisdiction and, like his predecessor, departed, leaving the diocese under interdict. Six years later he returned, but again the monarch began to encroach, and it was not until 1354 that the bishop secured recognition of his rights. His successor was Affonso Pires. Egidio is probably the bishop represented in the old Chronicles as being threatened with scourging by King Pedro for having lived in sin with a citizen's wife The accusation was probably groundless, but Egidio left the city, which for twelve years had no bishop. In 1373 or 1375 John succeeded and supported the lawful popes in the Great Schism, and the Master of Aviz against Spanish claims.

Other bishops were: John de Zambuja, or Estevans; and Gil, who in 1406 sold the episcopal rights over Oporto to the Crown for an annual money payment, reduced in the reign of D. Manuel to 120 silver marks; Fernando Guerra, who in 1425 was created Archbishop of Braga; Vasco. — Antão Martins de Chavis, who succeeded Vasco in 1430, was sent by the pope to Constantinople to induce the Greek emperor to attend the Council of Basle. He succeeded, and as a reward was made cardinal. He died in 1447. Succeeding incumbents were: Durando; Gonçalves de Obidos; Luis Pires (1454-64), a negotiator of the Concordat of 1455 and a reforming prelate; John de Azevedo (1465-1494), a benefactor of the cathedral and chapter, as was his successor Diego de Sousa, afterwards Archbishop of Braga and executor of King Manuel. The see was then held by two brothers in succession, Diego da Costa (1505-7) and D. Pedro da Costa (1511-39), who restored the bishop's palace and enriched the capitular revenues from his own purse; Belchior Beliago; and the Carmelite Frei Balthazar Limpo (1538-52), the fiftieth bishop. He held a diocesan synod in 1540.

In the time of Rodrigo Pinheiro, a learned humanist, Oporto was visited by St. Francis Borgia and the Jesuits established themselves in the city. Ayres da Sylva, ex-rector of Coimbra University, after ruling four years, fell in the battle of Alcacer in 1578 with King Sebastian. Simão Pereyra was followed by the Franciscan Frei Marcos de Lisboa, chronicler of his order. He added to the cathedral and convoked a diocesan synod in 1585. In 1591 another ex-rector of Coimbra, Heironymo de Menezes, became bishop; he was succeeded by the Benedictine Frei Goncalo de Moraes, a zealous defender of the rights of the Church. He built a new sacristy and chancel in the cathedral. In 1618 Bishop Rodrigo da Cunha, author of the history of the Bishops of Oporto, was appointed. His "Catalogo" describes the state of the cathedral and enumerates the parishes of the diocese with their population and income in 1623 and is the earliest account we possess. His successor was Frei John de Valladares, transferred from the See of Miranda. Gaspar do Rego da Fonseca, who held the see four years (1635-39). King Philip III named Francisco Pereira Pinto, but the revolution in 1640 prevented his taking possession, so that the see was considered vacant until 1671, being ruled by administrators appointed by the chapter. In 1641 John IV chose D. Sebastião Cesar de Menezes as bishop, but the pope, influenced by Spain, would neither recognize the new King of Portugal nor confirm his nominations. Next came Frei Pedro de Menezes; Nicolau Monteiro took possession in 1671, Fernando Correia de Lacerda, in 1673, who was succeeded by João de Sousa. Frei José Saldanha (1697-1708), famed for his austerity, never relinquished his Franciscan habit, a contrast to his successor Thomas de Almeida, who in 1716 became the first Patriarch of Lisbon. The see remained vacant until 1739, and, though Frei John Maria was then elected, he never obtained confirmation. In the same year Frei José Maria da Fonseca, formerly Commissary General of the Franciscans, became bishop. Several European States selected him as arbiter of their differences. He contributed to the canonization of a number of saints. He founded and restored many convents and hospitals.

Next in order were: Frei Antonio de Tavora (d. 1766), Frei Aleixo de Miranda Henriques, Frei John Raphael de Mendonça (1771-3), and Lourenço Correia de Sá Benevides (1796-8). Frei Antonio de Castro became Patriarch of Lisbon in 1814, being followed at Oporto by John Avellar. Frei Manuel de Santa Ignez, though elected, never obtained confirmation, but some years after his death, relations between Portugal and the Holy See were re-established by a concordat and Jeronymo da Costa Rebello became bishop in 1843. From 1854 to 1859 the see was held by Antonio da Fonseca Moniz; on his death it remained vacant until 1862, when John de Castro e Moura, who had been a missionary in China, was appointed (d. 1868). The see was again vacant until the confirmation of Americo Ferreira dos Santos Silva in 1871. This prelate was obliged to combat the growing Liberalism of his flock and the Protestant propaganda in Oporto A popular lawyer named Mesquita started a campaign against him, because the bishop refused to dismiss some priests, reputed reactionary, who served the Aguardente Chapel; getting himself elected judge of the Brotherhood of the Temple, he provoked a great platform agitation with the result that the chapel was secularized and became a school under the patronage of the Marquis of Pombal Association. In 1879 Americo was created cardinal and on his death the present (1911) Bishop, Antonio Barroso, an ex-missionary, was transferred from the See of Mylapore to that of Oporto.

The Diocese of Oporto is suffragan to Braga. It has 479 parishes, 1120 priests, a Catholic population of 650,000, and 500 Protestants.


Cerqueira Pinto, Cataloga dos Bispos do Porto composto pelo Illmo D. Rodrigo da Cunha (Oporto, 1742); Fortunato de Almeida, Historia da Igreja em Portugal, I (Coimbra, 1910); Bruno, Portuenses ilustres, III (Oporto, 1908).

About this page

APA citation. Prestage, E. (1911). Oporto. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Prestage, Edgar. "Oporto." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Jose Miguel D.L. Pinto DosSantos.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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