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Edition and Study of the autobiography of Antônio Dias Quaresma (1681-1756): the Bahian who dreamed of becoming pope

Grant number: 15/07296-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 15, 2015
Effective date (End): February 14, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Modern and Contemporary History
Principal Investigator:Maria Leda Oliveira Alves da Silva
Grantee:Maria Leda Oliveira Alves da Silva
Host Investigator: Jose Esteves Pereira
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal  


The key objective of the research is the edition and study of the Autobiography of Antônio Dias Quaresma (1681-1756), the Bahian who dreamed of becoming Pope. The research proposal aims to produce a critical study of the autograph manuscript, written between 1738 and 1744, date of conclusion of the Autobiography, that is today safeguarded in the Secret Archives of the Vatican, Italy. More concretely, the proposal is to conduct the necessary investigation in order to secure the manuscripted testimony and to grant it the heuristic apparatus required by historical criticism. This apparatus seeks to establish relationships and to confirm, or not, the facts reported by Antônio Dias Quaresma, not only those related to his personal life, but also those related to the religious and secular institutions with whom he was associated, and which appear in his autobiography, and to identify authors and works which influenced him, in order to understand their formation and their mental universe. It is known, through some reminiscences found in the handwritten testimony of the actual Autobiography, that the Bahian was encouraged to write his memoirs by his then Superior, Fr. Pietro Maria Peri. The lack of studies concerning Dias Quaresma's career, and his particular entrance into the Order of the Servants of Mary in Italy in 1733 at age 52, taking into account he was self-taught, does not offer a complete explanation regarding the reasons that led the superior to encourage Dias Quaresma to write his life story. Possibly Fr. Pietro M. Peri aimed to promote the Bahian as a life model amongst his confreres and the laity, as a way to praise the achievements of the Order and to enter it into the accounts of the religious institutions of the New World. This detail alone exemplifies the specificity of the life of Dias Quaresma which justifies the relevance of including him into the universe of Brazilian historiography. In addition, there is the added bold fact of the persistent idea of Dias Quaresma that he was chosen by God to become a New Pope of Christianity. As he himself states, the predestination was not a mere oversight of divine vision, but because he was a native of Bahia, and because this region is the progenitor of the geography that housed the chair of St. Peter. As such, the manuscript in question is unprecedented and a rare genre of literary production in the history of colonial Brazil, produced by a man with little or no formal education, fond of ascetic and mystical books, but not only, compulsive reader with a life story that did not go by unnoticed and which left marks in Brazil, Italy and Portugal. A history that has been completely unknown in Brazilian history, even though it contains very rich information regarding the mental universe to which this man had been involved in the 17th and 18th centuries, and from which he created its own cosmogony, and tried to build ways to fix the disorders that he identified in the world, in the pursuit of his dream of becoming the new pope of Christianity. And that, moreover, is what is to be achieved in this research project.

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