An Exhibition Never Read, Sorry, Seen

Book exhibition at Orient Museum
Par JoÁ£o GALVÁƑO Il y a 6 ans

The exhibition "Olhares sobre a Livraria do Convento da Arrábida" brings unique, rare and precious books from Arrábida Convent, and inaugurates today.


The preservation of the cultural heritage is one of the meritorious missions of Fundação Oriente and, since 1990, has extended this protection to the Arrábida Convent and its estate after having acquired it from a private investor. But about this story, which deserves an article just for itself, we'll talk later.

On the left, a Roman Mass Book, published in Venice in 1754, used in the Mass of the Tridentine rite, for eucharistic readings and prayers, and published, imagine, between 1570 and 1962; on the right, an Index Librorium Prohibitorum, a list of books forbidden by the Church, under the authority of Pope Pius IV, first edition in Cologne, 1610.


The exhibition "Looks about the Library of the Arrábida Convent" opens at 6:30 p.m. on Museu do Oriente, at Alcântara, and along with religious sculptures and liturgical objects, presents a selection of 36 books, dating from 1507 to 1860, which reflect not only the vast temporal horizon but also the diversity of knowledge contained in the Library of the Convent. Among the reference texts of a Franciscan convent library, such as the Treaty of Prayer and Devotion of St. Pedro de Alcântara in 1739, or the writings of St. Bonaventure (1609), there are more unexpected and unpublished titles in Portugal, such as collection of Anders Retzius on botany, from 1789, or the History of China, by Martino Martini (1658).

On the left,  the writings of St. Bonaventure, in 1609, and on the left, a History of China, by Martino Martini, at 1658.


Special highlight for single copies as a fully handwritten copy of Inácio Vieira's 18th-century chiromancy treatise, with an illustrated scroll of the signs of the zodiac or the Jardim spiritual by Frei Pedro de Santo António (Lisbon, 1632). This one, besides being a fundamental work of Franciscan thought, has the particularity of being dedicated to Our Lady of Arrábida, who is represented in an engraving in a seated position and crowned by rays of sun, a very rare iconography.

The scroll with the signs of zodiac, from the Chiromancy Treatise by Inácio Vieira on the 18th-century


With this exhibition, Fundação Oriente reveals part of the valuable bibliographical heritage of which it holds, in an invitation to its discovery by book and reading aficionados. Comprising works from the early 16th to the 20th century, the Arrábida Convent Library was a true archive of study and deepening of transdisciplinary knowledge, as evidenced by the use marks and handwritten notes of its books, as well as the existence of prohibited books, with censorship marks such as page cuts and erasures.

On the left, part of Jardim Spiritual by Frei Pedro de Santo António, in 1632, with an engraving of Our Lady of Arrábida represented on a rare iconography, that also opens this article. On the right, an exemple of censorship erasure.


In it coexisted works of the holy priests, of dogmatic and moral theology, of Greek and Latin philosophers and historians, medieval mystics, national and foreign humanists, with texts of scientific areas, military history and botany.


Composed of 2865 volumes, the collection of the Arrábida Convent Library remained unknown to the general public until the present. It is now fully inventoried in the online catalog of the Documentation Center António Alçada Baptista.


“Olhares sobre a Livraria do Convento da Arrábida” Exhibition 

Inauguration | 26 July | 18.30

Until 28 October

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10.00-18.0

(on Friday the hours are extended until 10:00 pm, with free admission starting at 6:00 p.m.

Price: € 6



Photos courtesy of Fundação Oriente / Nuno Vieira