Sunday, 12 December 2010

Fr José da Silva Tavares or José da Sacra Família

A priest of Póvoa de Varzim in England

José da Silva Tavares or José da Sacra Família (Argivai, Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, 14-02-1788 — Brentwood, Essex, England, 14-09-1858) was a Portuguese Catholic priest. He taught in the University of Coimbra, when he was an Augustinian friar, and later, because of the liberal revolution, went into exile in France, Germany and England. Meanwhile, he left his order and became a secular priest. In France he founded and directed a college – Colégio Português e Brasileiro, in Fontaine-aux-Roses, Paris – and later he went to England. There, he first (1848) opened a modest school in Stratford Green, near London, and later, as a missionary, in Witham, Essex, worked enthusiastically to build a small temple, which still exists, and developed a fraternal dialogue with influential Protestants of the region.
Some years later, he went to Germany and he returned to England in 1853, to the Catholic community of St Helen, Brentwood. There he died in 1858 and was buried in the parish cemetery near the church. Cardinal Wiseman attended his funeral.
An article of the Cathedral Parish of Saint Mary and Saint Helen website mentions another Portuguese priest, Emanuele Dios dos Santos (probably Manuel dos Santos) who played an important role in Brentwood in the difficult times of the first half of the nineteenth century, but this article doesn't mention Fr José da Silva Tavares.
Because he was born in the same Portuguese municipality of Blessed Alexandrina and because for many years the devotion to this Beata is remarkable in England, we thought that it was good to put this information here.

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