While the Spanish Carmelites were excluded from America by King Philip II in the age of exploration, the Portuguese Carmelites had no trouble undertaking their share of the evangelisation of Brazil.
In 1580 four Carmelites, including Fr. Domingos Freire, Vicar, arrived in Pernambuco with the expedition of Captain Fructuoso Barbosa and eventually made a foundation in Olinda. As new recruits arrived, houses were opened in Bahia, Santos, and Rio de Janeiro. In 1595 these became the Vice Province of Brazil.
In 1640 the Vice Province was divided into the Commissariats of Brazil (nine houses) and Maranhão (three houses). In 1685 the vast Commissariat of Brazil was divided into the Commissariats of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia-Pernambuco. These became autonomous Provinces in 1720. Some of the houses of Bahia-Pernambuco embraced the Stricter Observance and became the Province of Pernambuco (1744). Maranhão, which remained a Commissariat dependent on Portugal, is distinguished for its heroic missionary work in the remote regions of the Negro and Solimães Rivers.
In the second half of the nineteenth century Latin America adopted the policy of suppression of religious Orders pursued in Europe. By the end of the century only a few ageing friars remained in a handful of houses. 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; while the Spaniards continued the care of Bahia and Pernambuco.
World War II cut off the flow of manpower from beyond the seas, but by that time the Province of Rio de Janeiro was able to stand on its own feet. In 1951, after its restoration (1936), the Province of Bahia was united to the Province of Rio de Janeiro.
At present the Province of Rio de Janeiro has about 55 religious working in Brazil, France and Italy.
For further information: Province of Rio de Janeiro
Convento do Carmo
Rua Martiniano de Carvalho, 114
01321-000 SÃO PAULO, SP
Fax 11-32856079 (provincialato)
Fax 11-3251.1170 (admin.)