Aleixo de Menezes

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Archbishop Aleixo de Menezes

Aleixo de Menezes (25 January 1559 – 3 May 1617) was Archbishop of Goa, Archbishop of Braga, Portugal, and Viceroy of Portugal during the Philippine Dynasty.

Biographical sketch[edit]

Aleixo was born in 1559. It is known that he joined the Augustinians. He was consecrated Archbishop of Goa in 1595, when he was only 35.

As Archbishop of Goa, Menezes focused on strengthening Catholic ascendancy in Portugal. Part of this mission involved bringing the Saint Thomas Christians, an ancient body formerly part of the Church of the East, under the authority of the Catholic Church. By 1597 the last metropolitan bishop of the Saint Thomas Christians, Abraham, had died, and Menezes was able to secure the submission of Archdeacon George, the highest remaining representative of the native church hierarchy. That year Menezes convened the Synod of Diamper, which introduced a number of reforms to the church and brought it fully into the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Following the Synod, Menezes consecrated Francis Ros, S. J. as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Angamalé for the Saint Thomas Christians.

In 1612 Aleixo de Menezes was appointed Archbishop of Braga, Portugal. He was viceroy of Portugal during the Iberian Union from 1612 to 1615. He died in 1617, his remains are located at the Populo Church in Braga.

Controversy[edit]

Aleixo de Menezes, under the authority of the Goa Inquisition and the Council of Trent, continued the latinisation of the St. Thomas Christians started by the Portuguese in the early 16th century.

The result of his Synod of Diamper was unfortunate. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) says:

The only case in which an ancient Eastern rite has been wilfully romanized is that of the Malabar Christians, where it was not Roman authority but the misguided zeal of Alexius de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, and his Portuguese advisers at the Synod of Diamper (1599) which spoiled the old Malabar Rite.

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