Conto de Amaro




Conto de Amaro

Vida de Sancto Amaro

Original Latin source

Eventually Historia cujusdam Mauri qui concupivit videre paradisum terrestrem (lt.014)

Textual localization  

It belongs to a manuscript with about twenty different texts entitled Colecção Mystica de Fr. Hylario da Lourinhãa, Monge Cisterciense de Alcobaça, o qual transcreveo o seguinte no idioma Portuguez (Códice Alcobacense 266 – ALC. 462).


Old Portuguese



At the beginning of the Códice Alcobacense 266 it is stated that the translator of the texts  was Frei Hilário (of which almost nothing is known, except that he came from Lourinhã and was a monk at the Monastery of Alcobaça - Castro et alii, 1982-83: 5), but this information does not seem reliable.  In fact, although paleographically the manuscript is dated to the fifteenth century, some of its texts have an older language and there are signs of at least three different scribes. According to Castro et alii (1982/83: 6), it is possible that the three have worked in the scriptorium of Alcobaça during the time D. Estêvão de Aguiar was the abbot of the Monastery (between 1431 and 1446) and that Frei Hilário had the responsibility to compile the texts and copy or translate some.

Translation’s contextualization  

The Códice Alcobacense 266, a manuscript from the fifteenth century, is a collection of lives of saints known by its eighteenth century title: Colecção Mystica de Fr. Hylario da Lourinhãa, Monge Cisterciense de Alcobaça, o qual transcreveo o seguinte no idioma Portuguez.

Regarding ‘Conto de Amaro’, Otto Klob considers it is the copy of an unknown Latin version of the fourteenth century that was also the original version of a Spanish translation (from Burgos, 1522), called La Vida del bienaventurado Sant Amaro e de los peligros que passo hasta que llego ao Parayso terreal, which he believed to be the oldest (today we know there's an edition of 1520, from Toledo), although printed in the sixteenth century. This conclusion came from the comparison of the two very similar witnesses (their differences lie mainly at the beginning and at the end of the text - Dias, 1997). Vega (1987: 18, 33), on the contrary, argues that it is more likely that there was an archetype from which emerged two distinct traditions, one that gave rise to the Portuguese witness and other that led to the Spanish witnesses.


The dating of the Códice Alcobacense 266 is controversial, because there are significant differences in terms of the dates for which the researchers point out. Recent studies indicate that the dating of the codex is between 1431 and 1446. This does not mean, however, that this specific text has been produced at that time, although some researchers argue that the codex was the result of a unitary project and that, therefore, all texts were produced on the same period (see Sobral 1993: 673). In fact, with regard to this text, the oldest known witness, edited by Klob, dates from the fifteenth century (Candolo, 2008). However, the linguistic data allows us to understand that this is a copy of a version of the fourteenth century. There are similarities with a Spanish version of the sixteenth century and that raises the possibility that the two copies were based on the same original, which could have been composed in Latin possibly in the thirteenth century (Souza, 2001: 198).


The text has been translated/copied probably in the scriptorium of the Monastery of Alcobaça, where the codex was made.

Changes to the original work


The story is based in Santo Amaro desire to see the Earthly Paradise. For this, the saint sells what he has and goes on a sea voyage with sixteen companions. Along the way, they meet monks, hermits, kind people or marine beasts. During the trip, Saint Amaro establishes a deep friendship with Leomites, a hermit monk, who teaches him many things. Later, he leaves his companions and arrives at the gates of paradise, but he is not allowed to enter. He stays there over 200 years and then he gives up and returns to the world.

This is, then, a hagiographic text about the sea voyage of Santo Amaro to the Earthly Paradise. The text is connected with two traditions, the medieval hagiography and the sea stories of the Celtic literature (Candolo-Hall, 1996: 7; Souza, 2001: 200-201). There are some differences between the Portuguese and the Spanish witnesses of this text, especially at the beginning and at the end (Klob, 1901: 504-518; Vega, 1987: 33-36), but it is not possible to determine which one is closest the original or the extent to which there were changes on the part of scribes or translators.

Besides this, we are unable to verify the existence of textual interferences, since the Latin source which formed the basis for the translation is unknown.

List of manuscript witnesses


We only know a witness, that is inserted between folios 111r and 123v of the manuscript with the reference ALC. 462  that comes from the Monastery of Alcobaça (Códice Alcobacense 266) and today belongs to the National Library of Portugal.. There is a microfilm of the manuscript at the Torre do Tombo (Mf 185), its previous owner.

The text was first transcribed in the Journal Romania 30 (by Otto Klob) and can be found online.

List of old editions

In Portuguese, there are no old editions from this text.

Witnesses’ contextualization 

This witness dates from the fifteenth century, although it is probably a copy of a missing text of the fourteenth century.

There are also two sixteenth-century Spanish editions: one from Toledo (1520), entitled Vida de San Amaro and other from Burgos (1522) entitled La Vida del bienaventurado Sant Amaro e de los peligros que passo hasta que llego ao Parayso terreal.

Moreover, there is another Portuguese text, entitled A vida do bemaventurado Santo Amaro, in Ho Flos Sanctorum (1513). This text is from the late fifteenth century, and was printed in 1513, in Lisbon.

Other data

This text belongs to a manuscript on parchment and it is written in Gothic characters from the late fourteenth century or beginning of the fifteenth century in a single column of 30 lines. The initials are colored and decorated with filigree. The leaves have the size of 263 × 180 mm. The previous owners were Torre do Tombo and the Monastery of Alcobaça.



Klob,Otto (1901), "'A Vida de Sancto Amaro'. Texte portugais du XIVe siècle", Romania 30, 1901, 504-518.

Pinto, Maria Luísa Meireles (1961), "O conto de Amaro. Leitura crítica do texto e glossário". Lisboa: Universidade de Lisboa.

Silva, Elsa B. Conto de Amaro – Edição de texto português medieval e introdução. In Nascimento, Aires A. (ed.) Navegação de S. Brandão nas fontes portuguesas medievais. Lisboa: Edições Colibri, 1998, 243-281.

Vasconcellos, Laura Remartinez Paes (1997), "O Conto de Amaro: Edição e Estudo de um Texto do Códice Alcobacense n. 266". Tese. Lisboa: Universidade Nova de Lisboa - Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas.


Online databases:

Philobiblon: Texid 1076; Manid 1143; CNum 1078




ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (1997), "Mito e história na ‘Vida de Santo Amaro'", Anais do II Encontro Internacional de Estudos Medievais, Porto Alegre, 256-62

ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (2001), "Estratégias para a consideração de uma documentação isolada: ‘A vida de Santo Amaro'", Anais do XXI Simpósio Nacional de História da ANPUH. Niterói: ANPUH, 128-36

ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (2004), "Um processo de conformação legendária: A 'Vida de Santo Amaro' durante a Idade Média (séculos XIIIe-XVIe)". In Carlos SÁEZ (dir.) Actas del VII Congreso de Historia de la Cultura Escrita. Alcalá de Henares: Universidad de Alcalá, 115-123.

ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (2005), "Memória hagiográfica e autoridade religiosa: a viagem de Santo Amaro ao Paraíso terrestre". In Célia Marques TELLES e Risonete Batista de SOUZA (dir.) Anais do V Encontro Internacional de Estudos Medievais. Salvador, Bahia: Quarteto, 178-81.

ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (2007), "A ‘Vida de Santo Amaro' entre as dinâmicas de uma tradição legendária e as tensões do estabelecimento da Ordem Cisterciense em Portugal (séculos XIII-V)". In Ana Paula Torres MEGIANI (dir.) Inês de Castro: a época e a memória 1. São Paulo: Editorial Alameda – FAPESP, 79-102

ALMEIDA, Néri de Barros (2008), Tradition légendaire et narration écrite. Dimensions temporelles et politiques de la Vida de Santo Amaro. Bulletin du Centre d'études médiévales d'Auxerre. Hors série n. 2: Le Moyen Âge vu d'ailleurs. URL : /index4432.html ; DOI : 10.4000/cem.4432

AMADO, Teresa (1997), "Os géneros e o trabalho textual". In Cristina Almeida RIBEIRO e Margarida MADUREIRA (dir.) O Género do Texto Medieval. Lisboa: Edições Cosmos, 1-28

ANSELMO, António Joaquim (1926), Os códices alcobacenses da Biblioteca Nacional. I. Códices Portugueses. Lisboa: Oficinas Gráficas da Biblioteca Nacional, 76-78

BAÑOS VALLEJO, Fernando (1989), La hagiografía como género literario en la Edad Media. Oviedo: Departamento de Filología Española, 245 (n. 158)

BAÑOS, Fernando (2002), "Vida de Santa Pelagia". In Carlos ALVAR e José Manuel Lucía MEGÍAS (dir.) Diccionario filológico de literatura medieval española. Textos y transmisión. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1017-18

CANDOLO-CÂMARA, Teresa (1996), "Hagiografia medieval portuguesa - Exemplum". In Lênia Márcia de Medeiros MONGELLI (dir.), Atas do I Encontro Internacional de Estudos Medievais. São Paulo: Humanitas Publicações FFLCH, 358-59

CANDOLO-CÂMARA, Teresa (1996), "Viagens Medievais ao Paraíso Terreal - que os homens, àquela época, ainda encontravam n'alguma ilha". Campinas, SP: Universidade Estadual de Campinas - Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem.

CANDOLO-CÂMARA, Teresa (2002), "Desejo de Deus: As lágrimas e a representação do ideal monástico primitivo em hagiografias medievais portuguesas". Campinas: Universidade Estadual de Campinas - Instituto do Estudo da Linguagem.

CANDOLO-CÂMARA, Teresa (2008), Desejo de Deus e lágrimas - uma chave de leitura monástica para textos de espiritualidade medievais. In Tessituras, Interações, Convergências. XI Congresso internacional da ABRALIC, 13 a 17 de julho de 2008. São Paulo: USP. In

CARDEIRA, Esperança Maria da Cruz Marreiros (1990), "Contributo para o estudo da norma ortográfica no scriptorium de Alcobaça (1431-1436)". Lisboa: Universidade de Lisboa - Faculdade de Letras.

CARVALHO, Maria Teresa Reis de (1998), "Viagantes do Além", Studia Lusitanica 1: 11-45

CASTRO, Ivo (ed.) (1985), Vidas de Santos de um manuscrito alcobacense (Colecção Mística de Frei Hilário da Lourinhã, Cód. Alc. CCLXVI/ANTT2274). Lisboa: Instituto Nacional de Investigação Científica.

CASTRO, Ivo et al. (1982-83), "Vidas de Santos de um manuscrito alcobacense: Vida de Tarsis, Vida de uma Monja, Vida de Santa Pelágia, Morte de São Jerónimo, Visão de Túndalo", Revista Lusitana. Nova Série 4: 5-13

CASTRO, Ivo et al. (1984-85), "Vidas de santos de um manuscrito alcobacense (II): Vida de Eufrosina, Vida de Santa Maria Egipcíaca", Revista Lusitana. Nova Série 5: 43-71

CATALÃO, Pedro Miguel Nunes (1992), "O Motivo da ilha mítica na literatura medieval portuguesa". Lisboa: Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas - Universidade Nova de Lisboa

CEPEDA, Isabel Vilares (1995), Bibliografia da Prosa Medieval em Língua Portuguesa. Lisboa: Instituto da Biblioteca Nacional e do Livro, 227-28

CEPEDA, Isabel Vilares e FERREIRA, Teresa A.S. Duarte (ed.) (1994), Inventário dos Códices Iluminados até 1500. Vol. 1 - Distrito de Lisboa 75 (n. 64). Lisboa: Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, Instituto da Biblioteca Nacional e do Livro, Inventário do Património Cultural Móvel.

CINTRA , Maria Adelaide Valle (1960), Bibliografia de textos medievais portugueses. Lisboa: Centro de Estudos Filológicos, 27, 29, 36

CORNU, J. (1881), "Études de grammaire portugaise", Romania 10: 334-345

CORNU, J. (1881), "Études de grammaire portugaise", Romania 11: 76-96

COSTA, Sara Figueiredo (2003), "A construção dos tempos do ‘passado' em alguns textos do século XV - Sete Vidas de Santos do Códice Alconbacense 266". In Amália MENDES e Tiago FREITAS (dir.), Actas do XVIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, 267-73

DIAS, A. Epifânio da Silva (1903) “A lenda dos santos Barlaão e Josaphate. I. Texto crítico por G. de Vasconcellos Abreu. Lisboa 1898”, Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie 27, 465-469.

DIAS, Ana Paula P. (1997), Vida de Sancto Amaro: A representação do Paraíso no imaginário clerical medieval. Braga: Universidade do Minho.

MARTINS, M. (1956), "Romances hagiográficos", in Estudos de Literatura Medieval. Braga: Livraria Cruz, 11-33.

SOBRAL, Cristina M. M. (1993), Vida de Santa Maria Egipcíaca. In LANCIANI, Giulia e TAVANI, Giuseppe (dir.), Dicionário da Literatura Medieval Galega e Portuguesa. Lisboa: Caminho, 672-674.

VEGA, Carlos Alberto (1987), Hagiografía y literatura, Madrid: El Crotalón.