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FLUL researchers identify original manuscript by Father António Vieira S.J.


Ana Travassos Valdez, senior researcher at the History Center of the University of Lisbon, and Arnaldo do Espírito Santo, Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon (FLUL), presented last May 30th, in a public session, their extraordinary discovery of the identification of an original manuscript of the Clavis Prophetarum (Key to the Prophets) by Father António Vieira S.J.

The seventeenth-century manuscript was thought to have disappeared until 2020, when Ana Travassos Valdez identified it in the Historical Archive of the Pontifical Gregorian University (PUG), in Rome, and with the help of Arnaldo do Espírito Santo, validated its status as an original through an annotation in the margin of the text. Also part of the team that collaborated in the discovery, research, and subsequent restoration of the manuscript are Father Martín Morales S.J., Full Professor at PUG and director of the Historical Archives, Irene Pedretti, restorer and archivist, and the conservators Giulia Venezia and Maria Stella Maggio.

Although incomplete, this work served the Jesuit priest as a foundation for later texts, and constitutes, as the name indicates, the key to interpret prophets and biblical prophecies. It is currently being transcribed and translated, with a view to subsequent publication, which will make the document accessible to other researchers.

The presentation session took place at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon and at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and the recording, with subtitles, is available on YouTube for viewing. The session was opened by the Director of FLUL, Miguel Tamen, and the Portuguese members of the team, Ana Travassos Valdez and Arnaldo do Espírito Santo, described the process of discovery and the importance of the document. They also gave an overview of what has been known about it so far, through indirect sources. Members of the team in Italy also made presentations from Rome.

Helena Pereira, President of the FCT Board of Directors, also spoke at the session, and highlighted the importance of interdisciplinarity in scientific research, of the joint work of "multiple actors, in different centers of knowledge and research and various geographies, in fact constituting a global web of knowledge" and the integration of the different structures of the scientific system, fundamental elements for the realization of the research presented. Luís Ferreira, Rector of the University of Lisbon, closed the session, highlighting the work of the researchers involved and the role of institutions and their funding for the success of the scientific work.

This discovery was supported by the History Center of the University of Lisbon (CH-ULisboa) and the Center for Classical Studies of the University of Lisbon (CEC), units funded by FCT, and the researcher Ana Travassos Valdez is funded by FCT, through the program Stimulus to Scientific Employment.

Photographs: Pontifical Gregorian University Archive (APUG) / All Rights Reserved