The earliest copies of the Jornal Igreja Lusitana – the Lusitanian Church Newspaper – have been digitised and made available online by the Portuguese public archive. The Evangelical Apostolic Catholic Lusitanian Church was founded in 1880 by a group of former Roman Catholic priests and laity; and 14 years later, in 1894, they began publishing the Jornal Igreja Lusitana, which is now an important record of the history of the growth of Protestantism in Portugal.
The Church’s founders were dissatisfied with the doctrinal and pastoral course that the Roman Catholic Church had taken. Supported by the Anglican Bishop of Mexico, they formed a new church using a translation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Its earlier bishops were not consecrated; but in 1958 Anglican bishops from Brazil, the US and Ireland consecrated Bishop António Ferreira Fiandor.
In the 1960s, the Church entered into full communion with a number of Anglican and Episcopal Churches, beginning with those in the United US, England and Ireland. In 1980, the Church was fully integrated into the Anglican Communion as an extra-provincial diocese under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury – a situation that continues to this day.
Now, the Sophia de Mello Breyner Municipal Archive is making available the entire back catalogue of the Jornal Igreja Lusitana from 1894 to 1923. It is the first time that a Portuguese public archive has made available the complete collection of a periodical of a religious minority.
Founded by Diogo Cassels, the “important newspaper” contains “numerous texts and news of interest for the history of Vila Nova de Gaia, highlighting the churches and schools of Torne and Prado and other Lusitanian communities and Protestants,” the Church said.
The digitisation of the collection was undertaken by the Sophia de Mello Breyner Municipal Archive in Vila Nova de Gaia, under an agreement with Lusitanian Church.
In addition to the newspaper, the municipal archive is also making available other documents from the historical records of the Lusitanian Church, including material from both from the diocesan organisation and numerous parishes, schools and other bodies connected to the Church. The Sophia de Mello Breyner Municipal Archive described the collection as “an important historical library . . . which is fundamental to the history of Protestantism and religious minorities in Portugal.”