The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774)
Consistory of August 6, 1770 (III)


(2) 1. CUNHA, Can. Reg. of Saint Augustine, João Cosme da (1715-1783)

Birth. September 27, 1715, Lisbon. Son of Carlos Manuel da Cunha e Tavora, count of São Vicente, and Isabel de Noronha. Baptized on October 20, 1715.

Education. Studied law in Lisbon. Joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in the Reformed Congregation of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, 1738; took the name João de Nossa Senhora da Portas. Received the diaconate, May 15, 1740.

Priesthood. Ordained, May 22, 1740. During the earthquake of November 1, 1755, he walked barefooted the streets of Lisbon carrying a heavy crucifix and announcing penance for the living and suffrages for the dead. Inspector for the rebuilding of Lisbon. On January 2, 1746, King João V of Portugal requested his promotion to the episcopate.

Episcopate. Elected titular bishop of Olimpo and appointed coadjutor of Leiria, with right of succession, March 28, 1746. Succeeded to the see of Leiria, April 8, 1746. Consecrated June 29, 1746, patriarchal basilica, Lisbon, by Cardinal Tomás de Almeida, patriarch of Lisbon, assisted by José Dantas Barbosa, titular archbishop of Lacedemonia, suffragan of Lisbon, and by João da Cruz, former bishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. The marquis of Pombal appointed him inspector in rebuilding of Lisbon. Presented by King José I of Portugal for the metropolitan see of Évora on November 30, 1759. Promoted by the pope to that see on March 24, 1760; on that same day, he was granted the pallium. He continued to reside in Lisbon at the request of the Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, first count of Oeiras and later marquis of Pombal, his protector since he wrote a pastoral letter attributing the attempted regicide against King José Ito the Jesuits. Counselor of State and regidor of Justice, March 1760. In his archdiocese, he promoted the translation of the Catechism of Montpellier, of Jansenist leanings. President of the Real Mesa Censória, April 22, 1768. Inquisitor general of Portugal and Algarve, March 31, 1770. President of the Junta da Providência Literária, December 1770, that studied the causes of the decadence of the universities and blamed the Jesuits for it. Promoted to the cardinalate at the request of the marquis of Pombal.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of August 6, 1770; the pope sent him the red biretta with ablegatos apostolic Commendatore Cesare Lambertini and Monsignor Pietro Antonio Titoli; he never went to Rome to receive the red hat and the title. Commissary general of the Crusade in Portugal, August 9, 1771. His intrigues caused the disgrace of José de Seabra da Silva, secretary of state adjunct, in 1774. Did not participate in the conclave of 1774-1775, which elected Pope Pius VI. He was intellectually mediocre and of rudimentary culture but he knew how to ingratiate himself with the king and the marquis of Pombal and maintain for years a great influence at court.

Death. January 31, 1783, Lisbon. Exposed and buried (no information found).

Bibliography. Cunha, João Cosme da. D. João de N. Senhora da Porta Arcebispo Metropolitano de Evora ... a todos os freis do nosso arcebispado saude, e bengco, etc. [A pastoral letter dated 24 Feb. 1770, on the occasion of the elevation of Clement XIV to the Pontificate.]. Evora, 1770; Cunha, João Cosme da. D. João de Nossa Senhora da Porta, Arcebispo Metropolitano de Evora ... Fazemos faber a todos os reverendos parocos do nosso arcebispado, etc. [An encyclical letter to the clergy of his archdiocese, enclosing an order from the King concerning a Jubilee to be held in honour of the accession of Pope Clement XIV., together with Clement XIV.'s "Breve do Jubileo" of 12 Dec. 1769.]. Evora, 1770; Cunha, João Cosme da. D. Joaõ de N. Senhora da Porta, conego regular de Santo Agostinho ... Bispo de Leiria do Conselho de sua Magestade Fidelissima, &c. a todos os fieis desta nostra Diecese Saude, e Bençaõ ... Lisboa na officina ... de Francisco Luiz Ameno, 1759; Cunha, João Cosme da. O último Regimento da Inquisição portugesa. Introdução e actualização de Raul Rêgo. Corporate author: Inquisition. Portugal. Lisboa : Ediçues Excelsior, 1971, 1774. (Documentos da história, 2). Note: First published in 1774 under title: Regimento do Santo Officio da Inquisição./ Regimento ordered by the Inquisitor General, cardinal da Cunha; Cunha, João Cosme da. Regimento do Santo Officio da Inquisigco dos reinos de Portugal, ordenado com o real beneplacito, e regio auxilio pelo eminentissimo e reverendissimo senhor Cardeal da Cunha, dos conselhos de estado, e gabinete de sua magestade, e inquisidor geral nestes reinos, e em todos os seus dominios. Corporate author: Santo Ofmcio da Inquisiçâo dos Reinos de Portugal. Lisbon, 1774; Estoquette, Jeronymo. Elogio do ex.mo e r.mo senhor D. Joau, arcebispo metropolitano de Evora ... Lisboa : Na Regia officina Silviana, e da Academia Real, 1768. Responsibility: compoz Jeronymo Estoquette; Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, XIX, 25; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VI (1730-1799). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 26, 206, 257 and 318.

Links. Biography by Luciano Coelho Cristino, in Portuguese, p. 46-47, no. 2.13, A diocese de Leiria-Fátima; brief biographical data in Os Cardeais Portugueses, in Portuguese, patriarchate of Lisbon; his engraving and biography, in Portuguese, Wikipedia; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his engraving, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal; his engraving by J. M. Sockler, Casa de Sarmento; D. João Cosme da Cunha e o Catecismo de Montpellier, in Portuguese, Biblioteca Digital, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade do Porto, Portugal; archdiocese of Évora, in Portuguese; Origem do sobrenome Cunha.

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