Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Converso Spaces

An interesting little article from the AP about the discovery of a secret synagogue in a church in Porto.
A chance discovery in recent months during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a dark secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue.

Built when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that the Rev. Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for some older parishioners. Father Moreira, a scholar of Porto's Jewish history, said that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it." ...


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Nuno Guerreiro said...

It is indeed an amazing find! You can exercise your Portuguese reading a bit more about it here:

Rua da Judiaria: Sinagoga secreta descoberta no Porto

At 11:26 PM, Blogger silverfish said...

It is fascinating. Sort of reminds me of Catholic priest holes in England.

Do you know any other examples?

Happy Hannukah by the way.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Nathanael said...

Thanks, Nuno. It is something rare. I can't believe that I missed your entry on the discovery.

Silverfish, I can' think of any another clandestine synagogues, at least within the Spanish realm. The Inquisition was rather complete. Secret Judaizing went on within the home. Maybe in Portugal there would be more examples. Most of the people who reconverted after leaving the Iberian Penninsula came from Portugal rather than Spain. The Church was, surprisingly, a good place for 'false converts' to continue to practice because they had access to some Jewish texts.


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