Jewish Museum of Oporto presents Memorial with names of Inquisition victims

Jewish Museum of Oporto presents Memorial with names of Inquisition victims

Cecília Cardoso, aged 110, was the oldest citizen of Oporto to have been persecuted by the Inquisition which accused her of Judaising practices. The lives of a 10-year old child, monks, nuns, aristocrats, lawyers, marketers, rich and poor, young and old, all born in the second largest city of Portugal, were destroyed.

Similarly, three men of the Espinosa family faced that religious tribunal and its methods of torture in the years 1544, 1620 and 1624. A while later, in Amsterdam, the Jewish philosopher Baruch Espinosa was born. The year was 1632. The parents of young Baruch had fled Portugal in fear of the Inquisition.

These and other stories of victims of the Inquisition who were born in Oporto are now being studied by the department of historical research of the local Jewish community. Next year, a book will be published on the subject.

For the moment, the community wishes to honour the names of the 842 victims, by inaugurating a huge memorial measuring four metres wide by two metres high. This plaque, already in place on the exterior wall of the Jewish Museum of Oporto, will be inaugurated on 3 September. The date was not chosen at random. It is the European Day of Jewish Culture.
Speakers at the inaugural ceremony of this important memorial will be Sebastião Azevedo, President of Oporto’s municipal assembly, Bacelar Vasconcelos, national coordinator of the European Strategy for Promotion of Jewish Life and Culture, and Michael Rothwell, director of the Museum.

The Portuguese Inquisition was active between 1536 and 1821. Almost three centuries during which the Jewish religious faith was forbidden. Never, in the history of humanity, on any continent, has there been such systematic and enduring persecution due to something so simple.