Name of Object:
Reliquary Chest of St. João de Brito
Lisbon's Holy House of Mercy / Museum of São Roque
Date of Object:
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
Heinrich Mannlich (hallmark H.M.) (Unknown, Augsburg)
Museum Inventory Number:
MSR / Or 0625
Material(s) / Technique(s):
White and gilt silver
H: 54 cm; w: 88 cm; depth: 40 cm
Workshop / Movement:
German goldsmiths/International Baroque
Type of object:
Period of activity:
Place of production:
The Portuguese established trading posts along the coasts of India and China where merchants could trade and store their merchandise, extending their authority into the hinterland. While the traditional political structures of local chieftains remained, the elite profited by reselling European wares. In addition to trade, the Portuguese sought to spread Christianity among the local Asian populations with Franciscan, Dominican and later Jesuit missionaries preaching to the indigenous peoples. The Christian missionaries learned the native languages, familiarised themselves with the indigenous cultures and even their religions; in this effort, the Jesuits were extremely dedicated. St. João de Brito was sent as a member of the Jesuit Order to the mission of Maduré, in India, in 1673. His aim was to convert the higher castes, in order to better establish Christianity in the region. He became a pandaraswami, an Indian ascetic. One of his converts, Prince Tadaya Theva upon becoming Christian, was rejected by one of his wives. She complained to her uncle, the Raja of Marava, who had the Jesuit executed in Orbyur, India, in 1690.
Commissioned by King D. Pedro II, this Reliquary Chest is engraved in low-relief with scenes of St. João de Brito’s life and martyrdom. The bas-relief on the top features the saint in Indian dress, with sandals and a staff.
Santa Casa de Misericórdia, Lisbon / Museum of São Roque
How date and origin were established:
Moutinho de Almeida attributed this piece to the German silversmith Henrich Mannlich by identification of his hallmark (H.M.).
How Object was obtained:
After the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Marquis of Pombal in 1759, the church and the Professed House (House of the professed priests) along with all its possessions were given to Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Lisbon.
Documentos para a História da Arte em Portugal, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Vol. 5, 1969, p. 26.
Additional Copyright Information:
Copyright images: Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.
Citation of this web page:
Antonio Meira Marques Henriques "Reliquary Chest of St. João de Brito" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. http://baroqueart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;pt;Mus11_A;25;en