« Authorized Version of the English Bible Auto da Fé Autpertus, Ambrosius »

Auto da Fé

AUTO DA FÉ (Portuguese, ” Judgment [Judicial Decision] of the Faith,” from Latin, actus fidei): The public announcement and execution of the judgment of the Inquisition upon heretics and infidels; also called sermo publicus, or generalis, de fide, because a sermon on the Catholic faith was delivered at the same time. It was not to take place on Sunday or in a church, but on the street. At sunrise of the appointed day, those condemned with the hair shaved off, and variously dressed, according to the different degrees of punishment, were led in a solemn procession, with the banners of the Inquisition at the head, to some public place. When the secular authorities, whose duty it was to be present, had sworn to stand by the Inquisition, and execute its orders, the sermon was delivered, and then judgments against the dead as well as the living were pronounced. Next the backsliders, and those who refused to recant, were expelled from the Church and given over to the secular authorities for punishment, and then the procession again began to move. The bones of the dead who had been condemned were carried on sledges to the place of execution. Those condemned to death rode on asses, between armed men, and wore coats and caps, called in Spanish sanbenito, painted over with devils and flames. Not only the mob and the monks, but also the magistrates, and sometimes even the king and the court were present at the spectacle. There were, however, differences in the solemnization of autos da fé in Southern France, in Spain, in Italy, and in the Portuguese colonies in India. After the middle of the eighteenth century they disappeared, and the verdicts of the Inquisition were executed in private.


Bibliography: Exhaustive articles are to be found in P. Larousse, Grand dictionnaire universel, i, 980-981, Paris, 1866, and in Bertholet, La Grande Encyclopédie, iv, 756-758; consult also H. C. Lea, History of the Inquisition, i, 389-391, ii, 200, New York, 1888; L. Tanon, Histoire des tribunaux de l’inquisition de France, Paris, 1893. The article in JE, ii, 338-342, is very full and is most valuable for the abundant literature there cited.

« Authorized Version of the English Bible Auto da Fé Autpertus, Ambrosius »


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