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Convent of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida

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Convent of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida

The Convent of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida, which belonged to the Franciscan Province of Arrábida, is half-hidden among the trees on the southern slope of Serra da Arrábida, facing the sea, in the municipality of Setúbal. This 16th-century building was once a Franciscan convent. It is now included in the Arrábida Natural Park. The five-round towers on the cliff were probably used for solitary meditation.

The foundation of a Convent in the Serra da Arrábida dates from the end of 1538-1539, when Dom João de Lencastre 1st Duke of Aveiro promised to Friar Martinho (Martín de Santa Maria Benavides), a barefoot Andalusian friar of the Order of São Francisco, to fulfil his desire to lead a hermitic life dedicated exclusively to Our Lady.

The duke gave him the Serra da Arrábida, where there was already a chapel open to the cult in which the image known as Nossa Senhora da Arrábida was venerated. It was at that time that São Pedro de Alcântara came to help his relative, the Spanish friar, to create the Franciscan custody of Arrábida, then subject to the Minister-General of the conventual Franciscans. Later Arrábida custody was elevated to Arrábida Province and was formally subject, albeit with a high degree of autonomy, to the Minister-General of the Observant Franciscans.

The arrábidos friars, as they were popularly known, started by officially calling themselves Barefoot Franciscans and later, as they followed the constitutions elaborated by S. Pedro de Acântara, Barefoot Franciscans Alcantarinos or abbreviated Franciscans Alcantarinos.

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