500 years of Luso-Italian History: The Archive of the Italian Church of Nossa Senhora do Loreto in Lisbon



The archive of the Church of Nossa Senhora do Loreto of the Italian Nation comprises more than 300 manuscript volumes documenting the history of the church from the 16th century, at its building, until the 20th century, in a widely varied range of aspects (administrative, religious, political and cultural).

The collection includes items of relevant importance for the study of Luso-Italian relations, such as: "Livros dos traslados das escrituras de compras”; “Reconhecimentos dos foros que os Irmãos de Nossa Senhora do Loreto compraram à Câmara desta Cidade de Lisboa”, dated since 1620, but with entries of earlier dates; “Diários dos conhecimentos de receita da Igreja italiana”; “Diários de receita e despesa”; “Livros Mestres”; “Diários das obrigações de Missas e Ofícios e certidões do Cumprimento”; “Livros das Obrigações das Capelas”; Records of Marital status, baptisms (since 1749), weddings (since 1612), and death (since 1679), of communion (since 1724).


In addition to these volumes, the archive also have 28 wooden boxes and 24 sheaves of papers (referred to as Massos) containing loose documents.


The present research project arises from the urgent need for the preservation and study of this collection which, despite the efforts of the responsible entities, is presently inaccessible to the general public due to its poor state of conservation and to previous displacement of books and documents by occasional visitors in the archive over the past few years.


Thus, the creation of a catalogue becomes an urgent task, especially after the intervention in 2000 by an Italian scholar who subverted the work that Fr. Sergio Filippi had developed of cataloguing the loose documents in the 28 boxes. The recent publication of the book by Fr.Sergio Filippi, La Chiesa degli Italiani. Cinque secoli di presenza italiana a Lisbona negli archivi della chiesa di Nostra Signora di Loreto (Lisboa: Fábrica da Igreja Italiana da Nossa Senhora do Loreto, Dezembro 2013), entirely made from the archive documentation, forced the church board to find a solution that would allow the archive to become safely accessible, guaranteeing its cataloguing and material integrity. 


In fact, the many unpublished references to the archive in Fr. Sergio Filippi’s book, has many scholars and students of history of Portugal, of art history, the history of music, among others, interested in consulting the vast archive of the Church.



The catalogue project «500 years of Luso-Italian History: the archive of the Italian Church of Nossa Senhora do Loreto in Lisbon» was presented to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation by the church board, coordinated by Nunziatella Alessandrini. Working in the archive, since 2000, for her research on the Italian presence in Portugal during the Early Modern Age -, she was, along with Fr. João Chaves, the reviser of all citations in the book of Fr. Sergio Filippi. She is also the author of the book’s introduction.


Given the vast number of copies, which makes the comprehensive survey of the entire archive impossible within the duration of the Gulbenkian scholarship, it was decided to develop, in a first stage, a general catalogue that would enable the external consultation and start the digital scanning of the loose documentation, of the 16th and 17th centuries.


The project will consist of three stages:

•Study of the institution;

•Archival classification and description;

•Digital scanning of the documentation of the 16th and 17th centuries and the use of open sourced archival description software  ICA-AtoM, developed with the support of the International Council of Archives and used by international institutions, including UNESCO.


In order to disclose this work, the project will provide seminars and the publication of articles in specialised journals.


Start: 2014

Duration: 14 months

Principal Investigator: Nunziatella Alessandrini (CHAM)




- Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

- Igreja Italiana de Nossa Senhora do Loreto


- Centro de História d'Aquém e d'Além-Mar / Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas/Universidade Nova de Lisboa | Universidade dos Açores



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