Santo António Dos Olivais - History


Even by 1064, before the creation of the Kingdom of Portugal (1143), the region of Olivais was pasturelands interspersed by parcels where the local settlers cultivated vineyards and olive orchards, in addition to vegetable gardens and fruit trees, while the remaining lands were still forested (such Malheiros, Tovins, Picoto, Dianteiro and Rocha Nova).

The beginnings of the parish occurred in the 13th century (around 1210), when D. Sancha (daughter of King Sancho I) founded the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Celas, in the locality of Vimarães, under administration of friars of the Order of Saint Bernard. The establishment of the monastery in Vimarães was basis for the founding of the parish of Celas.

A few years later (between 1217 and 1218), Queen Urraca (wife of Afonso II) donated a small chapel on a hill of olive groves to the first Franciscan monks arriving into Portugal, which they transformed into a humble hermitage dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great. Around 1220, friar Fernando de Bulhões after taking religious orders at the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Cruz (Coimbra) joined the humble Franciscans monks, adopting the name of the small chapel's patron. After his death (1231 in the Italian town of Padua), he was canonized almost immediately, and the Franciscan convent that flourished in Olivais quickly changed its patron from Saint Anthony the Great to Anthony of Padua, becoming known as Santo António de Olivais and attracting new settlers into the region. By 1247, the Convent of São Francisco da Ponte attracted many friars, resulting in the late 15th century delimitation of the churchyard and convent in the 16th century.

Slowly the built-up area developed within the territory, with new agglomerations forming around the principal centres of Celas and Olivais; by 1740 the town of Celas had 48 buildings with about 200 inhabitants, while Olivais had just about the same.

On the night of 10–11 November 1851, a fire gutted the cloister, dormitory and other dependencies of the convent (now the churchyard and cemetery of the current structure). Renovations and remodelling of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Piedade (which was the church of Saint Germain) continued after May, becoming the parochial church of the newly defined parish of Santo António dos Olivais.

By 1854, with the expulsion of the religious orders and municipal reforms, the need to reorganize the municipality of Coimbra, resulted in the 25 November 1854 decree establishing the civil parish of Santo António dos Olivais (that included 749 buildings and 3000 inhabitants), in addition to six other parishes. Olviais included the largest of these early settlements, established from the remnants of São Pedro and clergy of Torres.

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