A thousand school students anticipate the celebration of National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Inquisition

A thousand school students anticipate the celebration of National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Inquisition

More than a thousand teenagers from Portuguese schools will visit the Jewish Museum of Porto on March 20th to celebrate the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Inquisition. This year the ceremony will not take place on March 31st, which is Easter Sunday to the Catholic community.

The museum is an architectural jewel. Moving on from the first room, the voyage is accompanied by film shots of all ages, showing visitors the environment of the medieval Jewish community, the surnames of Jews who then lived in what is now Portugal, the epigraph of Monchique Synagogue, the Edict of Expulsion decreed by King D. Manuel, the migration waves of the Portuguese Jews to all continents and three centuries of the Inquisition.

The teenagers will see a memorial with the names of 842 victims of Portuguese Inquisition who were born in Oporto. These victims aged 10 to 110 years old were killed or expelled between 1536 to 1821. Never has world history recorded such a lengthy and systematic persecution of such an innocent cause. The anonymous denunciations by the scum of society hit their peak at that time.

Numbering among the many objects regarding the period of the Inquisition, the museum highlights the replica of a prison wagon from inquisitorial times. A similar wagon was donated by the Jewish Community of Oporto to the Jewish Museum of Belmonte.

Another object of great value on display at the Museum is an example of the book "Sentinela Contra os Judeus" (Sentinel against the Jews) by Frei de Torrejoncillo (then distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula), which explained how to identify a Jew and guaranteed that Jews, like animals “had a tail”.

The museum has screens showing scenes from the film "1618", the most award winning film ever in Portugal. It tells the story of an Inquisitorial Visitation to the city of Oporto aimed at arresting more than one hundred New Christians and forcing the rest of the community to emigrate. The city’s judicial and municipal authorities fought a fierce battle against the visitation. The Court of Appeal even had the ecclesiastical court surrounded by guards mounted on horseback to prevent the prisoners from being taken to Coimbra.

Portugal still has a dearth of education about the Inquisition. Although references have begun to make appearances in the curricular manuals for Portuguese schools, many students are asked to learn little about the Jewish population that was all but stamped out of their country over three centuries.

The Jewish Museum of Oporto is included in a strategy of the local Jewish community to fight antisemitism. This strategy includes school visits to Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, films about the history of the Jews in Portugal; courses for secondary school teachers and others who are interested in themes relating to Judaism and the history of the Jews, and visits to the city’s Holocaust Museum.