MMIPO

Portrait of D. Lopo de Almeida
Painting that represents one of the most important benefactors of Misericórdia do Porto.

Painted in 1890 by Vitorino Ribeiro, inspired by a work of Francisco Mendes Lima, the portrait of D. Lopo de Almeida may have had, as an inspiration, the one of Manuel Fernandes de Calvos, another major benefactor of Misericórdia. This influence is found in its composition, particularly on some figures. In fact, children, religious people and beggars, that D. Lopo listens and assists outdoors, resemble to the picture mentioned, where they appear in a similar situation. Chromaticism also uses earthy and reddish-brown tones.

D. Lopo arises on the inside scenario, as a middle-aged figure, standing, wearing priestly vestments, praying before a cross and holding in his hands a prayer book. It lies adjacent to a table upon which are placed an ink cartridge, a bell, and other objects. A parchment under the cartridge reveals his testamentary dispositions. A door establishes the separation between the two scenarios which, allegorically, refer us to the figure portrayed, divided between the intimate and mundane worlds.


D. Lopo de Almeida

This important benefactor has a prominent and ubiquitous presence in the history of the Misericórdia do Porto. It was his legacy that allowed a greater autonomy of the institution at a time when it was still very dependent on royal support.

It is believable that D. Lopo was born around 1525. He belonged to the lineage of the Almeidas with connections to the nobility of Abrantes, protected by King João II. He was the fifth child out of12 (7 brothers and 5 sisters).

His education and his own life were marked by significant geographical mobility. He spent time in his childhood and adolescence, with his great-uncle Jorge de Almeida, Bishop of Coimbra, in order to pursue a clerical career. In 1544 D. Lopo goes to Bordeaux with a scholarship to study grammar and Latin, heading to Paris in 1546. Two years later he is living in Flanders and returns to Portugal in 1550. At the end of that year he was arrested by the Inquisition under the charge of conversion to Lutheranism, having abjured, that is, renounced that religion that the Inquisition considered as a false one. He was released from prison in August 1551, after a pardon granted by Cardinal D. Henrique .

It is imperative to emphasize his connection with King Filipe II of Spain, at the time of the Portuguese crown annexation process in 1580. The services offered earned him the position of chaplain of the Hispanic monarch.

On January 29th, 1584 he dies in Madrid. By testament of the 25th of the same month, he bequeathed his abundant possessions to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Porto, as long as it meets certain conditions. The first and most important was to continually help the sick and provide them with everything they needed, permanently and continuously. His entire fortune, he adds, would have to be spent on healing the poor. The experience of the Misericórdia do Porto in this area showed that the care for the poor patients required a suitable place for that purpose. For efficiency reasons, the institution felt it would have to build a new hospital to treat the sick. This, however, only came about two or three decades later.

However, the Provedor and the Administrative Board were pressured to carry out something concrete for the poor sick, forced by the requirements of D. Lopo de Almeida. The testament stipulated that, if the Misericórdia do Porto did not fulfilled the rules, the hastate would, successively, pass to the Misericórdia de Braga or to Lamego. Therefore, the Provedor, the Registrar and the Administrative Board tried to adapt the old Rocamador facilities (which had been released in 1587 by the Castilian military chiefs who, after the conquest of Portugal in 1580) in order to provide it with hospital characteristics. Not being, therefore, an entirely new institution, it seems acceptable that the Rocamador has been chosen to give initial compliance to the testament of D. Lopo de Almeida.

A curious fact of the generous testament contemplating the Misericórdia do Porto is that the benefactor was not born in Porto, nor is there any knowledge that he has ever lived in this city.

It was decided, in 1605, to build the new hospital, according to the inscription that exists in the Gallery of Benefactors. In mid-1610 the new home opened its doors to the first patients, although work continued until 1615.

For nearly two centuries the D. Lopo de Almeida hospital served the people of Porto and beyond. Even today, after more than 400 years, on January 29 of each year, the Misericórdia promotes the celebration of a mass for the soul of this benefactor and, in accordance with one of his testamentary dispositions, dresses five poor people.


D. Lopo de Almeida's Itinerary

MMIPO
> Room 01 - History and Action of Misericórdia do Porto: Hospital de Rocamador and Hospital of D. Lopo de Almeida
> Room 02 - Benefactors: Honor Book in Memory of Benefactors
> Gallery of Benefactors: Description alluding to the Hospital of D. Lopo
> Private Church: Urn of D. Lopo de Almeida

Rua das Flores / Rua dos Caldeireiros
> Ancient Hospital of D. Lopo de Almeida


D. Lopo de Almeida
Joaquim Vitorino Ribeiro
1890
Copy of a sample of Francisco Mendes Lima
Oil on canvas

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