The Spanish crown entrusted the evangelisation of its American colonies only to certain religious Orders, which did not include the Carmelites. Portugal imposed no such limitations and Brazil became the mission field of the Order in the New World. The first Carmelite foundation was made in 1580 in Olinda, Pernambuco. Other foundations were made throughout Brazil and a century later, in 1685, the vast vicariate of Brazil was divided into the vicariates of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia-Pernambuco. These in turn became provinces in 1720. Some of the houses of the Bahia-Pernambuco Province embraced the Stricter Observance and these in 1744 were constituted a Province with the title "Pernambuco".
In the nineteenth century Latin America adopted the policy of suppression of religious Orders pursued in Europe and by the end of the century in all of Brazil only a few ageing friars remained in a handful of houses. In 1886 the Vicar Provincial of Pernambuco reported to the Prior General that the surviving members of the Province were all in one convent, Recife; the other four houses were in the hands of secular priests. In 1894, the newly restored Province of Spain undertook the renewal of the Order in Brazil. When this task proved to be beyond its resources, the Province of The Netherlands took over the Rio de Janeiro Province; Betica assumed the care of Bahia and Arago-Valentina that of Pernambuco. Eventually the remnant of the Bahia Province was absorbed into that of Rio de Janeiro, but by 1949 Pernambuco had sufficiently revived to be given once more the status of a Province.
At present the Province of Pernambuco has about 70 religious working in Brazil and Mozambique.
For further information: Province of Pernambuco
Convento N. Sra. da Piedade
Cx. Postal 525
Av. Beira Mar, s/n
54410-010 JABOATAO DOS
Tel. 081-3468.2177 / 3361.2011